I have this nasty feeling that all government people involved in the failed hostage rescue last August 23 will be absolved by the committee headed by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.
My fear that everybody will be absolved except the bus driver and the media men who covered the bloody incidence is not exactly unfounded.
One panel member, Teresita Ang-See, claimed radio station RMN gave hostage taker Capt. Rolando Mendoza a venue to grandstand and air his complaints about his dismissal from the service.
Ang-See alleged that RMN anchor Michael Rogas and RMN spokesman Jake Maderazo gave more importance to their job than to their more urgent “human duty” to intercede in behalf of the hostages.
But if they did that, Rogas and Maderazo may have been charged with obstruction of justice which is punishable by imprisonment. Only the police negotiators are supposed to intervene for the hostages and the hostage taker.
The police said they could not contact Mendoza on the phone because it was always busy.
“Why did you not make an appeal to Mendoza to free the hostages?” she angrily asked Rogas and Maderazo.
But that was exactly what the RMN interviewer was doing, asking Mendoza not to fire at the victims and to keep his cool..
Maderazo retorted: “If there was no media, who would tell the story?”
“Your profession is not more important than human life!” Ang-See.insisted.
Panel members also took turns in grilling bus driver Alberto Lubang on why he and Mendoza thought the broadcaster they were talking to was Mike Enriquez. Was it a criminal act on the part of the driver for having second thoughts about the voice of Enriquez?
Lubang said it was around 4 p.m. when Mendoza started to lose his temper after reading the letter from the Ombudsman.
He said Mendoza was not happy with the response of the Ombudsman because he demanded his reinstatement to the police force through a reversal of a resolution that dismissed him from the service over robbery-extortion charges.
He recounted: “It was after he read the letter, that’s when he started to get mad,” Lubang said.
But nobody in the panel suggested that the ombudsmen be called to clarify.
Of course, the major Grandstand players that also included the de Lima investigator in the person of the secretary of interior and local governments were not subjected to humiliation the way it interrogated the mediamen and the poor driver.? What a dilemma. Why should the investigator investigate himself?
The government bungled the hostage situation, but it might look like a whitewash is in the offing. Worse, Lubang, Mike Rogas (not Mike Enriquez), Maderazo and other media personalities may stand to take the witness stand in a regular court.
It is likely that government people will not be implicated because they had their respective alibis: the crisis committee members, the Malacanang communication triumvirate, the DILG secretary, the chief PNP, the police negotiators, the SWAT, the Cabinet.