It was tragic; no one can deny that.
What might be debatable is which one is more tragic: that this even happened in the first place and innocent people got injured and killed, or that our local police, “SWAT” team, media and even the bystanders somehow managed to shame the nation with their incompetence and irresponsibility?
My initial reaction was one of amusement at how the police, in their flimsy body armor, bungled their attempts at breaking the windows and doors of the bus. Then it quickly turned to shock when I saw shots fired and bullet holes on the windshield. I realized: this was horribly real.
I didn’t want to watch anymore because I couldn’t stand to watch how the police looked so awkward and scared shitless with what’s happening. I tried putting myself in their shoes, and I realized I’d probably act the same way. My problem with this is that had they been given the proper training or even retained a smidgen of what they were taught to do in cases like these, the police’s actions would have been more precise and decided rather than unsure and bungling.
I turned off the tv and headed off somewhere to eat dinner with a friend, who promptly turned on his laptop and streamed live footage of the crisis on his laptop as soon as we arrived at the restaurant. Twitter, Facebook and other social platforms kept both of us updated. We learned that the hostage-taker, a former policeman named Rolando Mendoza was finally brought down by the police but was killed in the process (wtf. easier to kill than capture alive, is that it?). We learned that the hostages were taken to the hospital but that some died upon arrival. We learned that the bystanders and the media had the GALL to go up to the bus to see what happened when they SHOULDN’T because they’re tampering/contaminating/i forgot the term/interfering the crime scene.
It was depressing.
The truth is that while it is so easy to pin the blame on the police–after all, it was a former cop who took hostages, and our own law enforcers pretty much failed at keeping the casualty count at zero–we must remember that given our country’s circumstances the past few 20 years, these people may not have had adequate training to handle these kinds of situations. Do we blame the politicians, then?
I say let’s not blame anybody. It’s going to be absolutely hard to do that especially since our people have been known to point fingers whenever possible, but we have to stop doing so. What do we do?
Disney movies said it best: We move forward. We LEARN, we REMEMBER what we learned, and we move FORWARD.
We have been so caught up in our past, in our days of economic comfort and wealth that we have “grown flaccid with dependence, smug with ease under another’s wing”* and we have resorted to putting the blame on other people because we were too dependent on others to do the work of improving the country ourselves.
We can’t let this tragedy bring us down. We are a resilient people, but we are also forgetful. We forget the crimes of our past politicians and elect them again and again. We forget the lessons our history has taught us and yearn to teach us still, but we throw them to the wind. We must remember the lessons we learned and continue to learn. Only then can we turn tragedy around. Only then can we honor the people whose lives were lost in the crossfire.
*quote taken from R. Zulueta da Costa’s “Like the Molave”