i hardly ever watch tv, and local tv not at all. i get my news off the net, or broadsheets, and watch dvds.
last monday, however, i was with a friend and he switched the news on. all local news channels were featuring the hostage situation at the quirino grandstand.
for over two hours i watched, incredulous, as the media, fully aware that the hostage taker had a television in the bus and was watching the news, focused its attention on the hostage-taker's brother being manhandled by other policemen.
the incredulity reached epic proportions as the first shots rang out, and eventually the unprotected policemen (they might as well have been naked for all the protection their uniforms afforded them) moved toward the bus, away from the bus, and back again.
all this time the media cameras flashed the position of the police around the bus, giving the by this time crazed hostage taker a very good idea as to where the assault team was. in front of the bus, at the side of the bus, and at the back. he probably knew exactly how many members of the force were there, what kinds of weapons they had, and the uniforms they wore.
when it was all over civilians swarmed to the scene, again, all on camera.
people lament that the swat knew nothing about hostage situations. people railed against the incompetence of the police force, and the apparent idiocy of the person who ordered the arrest of the hostage taker's brother.
that hostage taker was obviously unstable. add to this the pressure of seeing his brother being manhandled, which no doubt aggravated whatever emotions he was already feeling and most likely caused him to finally snap. i expected nothing less than violence from him.
but the media? the commanding officers? i expected more from them. responsible journalism from the media, competence from the commanding officers.
i felt sorry for the policemen who had no choice but to go to that bus and attempt to take it over, despite the fact that they had no visuals on the hostage taker, and practically no protection, not to mention no equipment. they were soaked to the skin, and were at the mercy of an obviously crazed man who had the higher ground and the advantage of the media coverage. i felt no pity for those who aggravated the situation by ordering the arrest and manhandling of the hostage-taker's brother.
my heart broke at the site of bodies being lifted out of the bus.
but i couldn't help feeling disgusted at the throng of people that surged to the bus after the tragic end of the hostage situation, and even more appalled by the media who had the gall to call these people "uziseros" when in fact they were no better.
responsible journalism from the media. competence from the people who have sworn to serve and protect. are these too much to ask?