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EDITORIAL - Only in the Philippines

You don’t have to be an expert to realize that the police botched its handling of the hostage crisis that unfolded live on television last Monday before the horrified eyes of the entire world.

It was very evident, even to untrained eyes, that the police lacked everything that was possibly needed to bring the crisis to a successful resolution — they did not have the proper skills, the right equipment, and the correct procedures to follow.

Instead, what happened for everyone to see was a succession of failed actions, or woeful inaction that, had it not been for the grimness of the situation, would have treated everyone to real live comic entertainment.

The moment he announced it, the hostage-taker was already a law-breaker. That gave the police the authority to act appropriately and with dispatch, considering that lives were not only at stake, but were increasingly endangered the longer the crisis dragged on unresolved.

Yet, despite several instances when the hostage-taker showed himself up for a clean shot, no sniper attempted to disable him or take him out. Had the police done that, no bloodbath would have occurred and they would have been praised for their swift and decisive action.

But because the police simply did not know what to do right from the start, the whole thing turned into everything a hostage situation should not have degenerated into. How one cop tried to tie a rope on the bus door showed what kind of people were responding to the crisis.

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The cop exposed himself to the armed hostage-taker and can only thank God the crazed gunman inside did not shoot him dead. As if recklessly endangering himself was not enough, it was also clear the cop did not know how to tie a rope. A Boy Scout could have done infinitely better.

Having busted the windows open after many laughable and exhausting attempts with, of all things, a sledgehammer, the supposed SWAT team fired tear gas into the bus and then rushed inside with no masks. Of course they came out crying, strings of saliva falling from their mouths.

To top it all, hordes of kibitzers lured by all the hooplah on tv, some probably coming from as far as Aurora, descended on the site just seconds after it was all over. Chaos descended and nobody was in control to protect the scene. This could only happen in the Philippines.

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