A look at the nation’s ‘soul’

I was really surprised that veteran journalist Oliver Teves wrote an “epilogue” on the report of the Incident Investigation Review committee on the botched hostage rescue operation on Aug 23.

He gained respect among old colleagues because he had advocated principled journalism. Through the years that he has been working for the international press, he   valued a good story for its facts and the accuracy in the reportage. He has shunned away from merely opinionating as some journalists were fond of and thought that these were the facts. Yet this time, I was privileged to have read Olie’s emotional commentary.

During the hostage-taking drama, he said that all misfortunes conspired to produce the tipping point.  And as he put it,” the non-happening of a single event could have drastically changed the fate of the hostages.

However, the inefficiency in ground command, the cavalier attitude of the CMC (crisis management committee) chairman, the misreading by the negotiator of the hostage-taker, the employment of his brother in the negotiations, the decision to abandon the command post at the most critic al point, the intervention of a radio announcer at the height of the negotiations and his eventual take-over of the negotiations, were not helped at all by the fact that they all occurred and converged at a single moment to crate the TIPPING POINT.
There was no .luck that day,”

Olie said that   one is also tempted to believe the Chinese that August was indeed a ghost month. But he quickly pointed out that this is the farthest cause of the murder of the Hong Kong tourists.  Then he wrote:

“The ghosts are ours alone. A man with a perceived injustice and impression done against him, so common in Philippine society, cornered and forced to murderous and insane mission, the incompetence and insubordination of a police commander, the aggravating vigilantism of a politician, the disregard for the proper use of a crisis system by the crisis responders, the reckless irresponsibility of media people and their total abhorrence to any form of restrain in the practice of their trade. These are our own ghosts that we should now face squarely if we are not to repeat August 23, 2010.”

“This is our society, this is our culture, and these are Filipinos at their worst. At some point, an oppressed Filipino crying our for justice may gain snap and seize them, in exchange for justice without him having to pay any amount, even P150,000, but at the cost of human lives. For in truth, justice has become  a commodity in this country, with no less than heartless bureaucrats in charge of its dispensation on the condition that they re paid to give what is already owed to a man, even to the shameless extent of asking it from a lowly policeman.

“This is our society. It drives otherwise ordinary and simple men to turn into murdering monsters at a snap. Because they feel oppressed and need justice but are asked for money. They ask for redemption but are faced only with extortion. Officials without shame, policemen without conscience, a nation without luck.

Mendoza was only the instrument in the murder of eight innocent human beings. In this investigation, this committee looked into the hostage-taking incident and ended up looking into the nation’s soul, and find that we are all equally guilty of pulling the trigger of the gunman.

“This is our country seen through a mirror, and that mirror was Rizal Park, August 23, 2010.”

Alas, Olie’s commentary also came out a time when President Aquino had just decided that those who were implicated in the IIRC report can only be subjected to administrative sanctions and he admonished Local Government and Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, along with his undersecretary Rico Puno who is also the President’s close friend. Joel Paredes


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