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Playing the Blame Game: the Manila Bus Hostage Crisis

Updated on May 4, 2011

It has been three days since that fateful day when an ex – cop seeking reinstatement decided to hijack a tourist bus and take in as hostages the 20 people inside the bus. The Manila bus hostage crisis lasted for 12 hours and resulted in the deaths of 8 tourists.

Now the race is on to discover what really happened during these 12 hours, how did the victims die, who really killed them, what did those in authority do and what should be done in the future to avoid something like this happening again. As of the date of this writing, the Philippine Senate is already holding its own investigation on what truly  happened during the said hostage crisis.

Most of all, the race is on to find out who is really to blame for the deaths of 8 tourists, the destroyed reputation of the Philippine National Police, the negative effect on Philippine tourism industry and the general upheaval caused by this unfortunate and saddening incident.

It is always like this. We’re all relaxed, going through our normal lives, not noticing (or if we do, we don’t complain) when something is going wrong. And then when it all blows up on our faces, the blame game starts.

So who is really to blame for the Manila bus hostage crisis?

Is it the police?

The trouble with watching the whole crisis live on TV (fortunately for me, I only watched the last two hours of the hostage situation, if I watched longer I would have been really, really, really upset about what happened) is that you see everything.

And I do mean everything – how the police painstakingly smashed the windows of the bus to be able to enter it. How one police lost his sledge hammer during the process. Was he too nervous during that time? How they tried to open the emergency door and enter the bus through the opening (only to retreat a short while later because the hostage taker opened fire at them). How they were all huddled beside the bus, where they can be seen through the side mirror in full view of the hostage taker.

But is the Philippine National Police really to blame?

What do you think? I mean they were obviously not prepared to handle such a crisis. There was nobody who decided decisively on what should be done. They let the whole thing drag for 12 hours, even, at one point, arresting the brother for everyone to see, thus, increasing the ire of the hostage taker who was already nervous about what he was doing. Their movements were slow and there was no obvious direction or planning in what they were doing.

There was no control over the media and the crowd. When the hostage taker was killed, you can see the people swarming around the bus like ants drawn to the food. All in all, the situation was poorly managed and the results showed this fact.

That takes care of the police, how about the media?

I really do not know why media people have to cover a sensitive event like this one 24/7. Would it have hurt their ratings if they showed the whole thing after the crisis was over? Would it have hurt their ratings not to show the footages that are guaranteed to raise the ire of the hostage taker (like the arrest of his brother) and caused him to open fire at the hostages?

Would it have hurt their ratings to show some restraint in showing to the entire world just how inept our authorities are in handling a grave situation such as this?

Its times like this that I really wish the media will exercise responsible reporting and have some form of protocol when things such as this happen. Even our former president called the media spoiled and without restraint.

Are the media directly to blame? No. Did their actions affect the situation? Yes.

How about the Philippine government? Are they to blame?

Which Philippine government are we talking about? The current government is blaming the previous government and vice – versa. The previous government is blaming the current government because the latter did not take definite actions to end the whole thing earlier. The current government is blaming the previous government because the latter did not push through with setting up a counterterrorism unit that will take care of hostage crisis situations such as this.

This is where the blame game really gets worst.

People, Filipinos at that, are swamping the current president’s Facebook page, angrily posting negative words and generally blaming him for what happened.

And for what?

So that heads will roll? So that we Filipinos will bow our heads over and over again to apologize for something that we really couldn’t control? So that we will ‘save’ our international reputation? So that one group can put down the other group and say that they’re better than the other group?

This blame game will drag on and on and then it will quietly fade in the background. And another opportunity for us to learn and to become better from what we have learned from this tragic affair passes by. And everything will go back again to what they were before the hostage crisis, until the issue will be dug up again when something bad like this happens (again!).

In times like this, do we really learn? I hope so. I hope as the blame game continues (knowing my country and my people, it’s unavoidable really), we will all learn something and do something to ensure that such will not happen again.

The contents of this hub are my personal views and do not, in any way, reflect the views of my countrymen. You are free to leave your comments, whether these are positive or negative. But in all those comments, please do not forget to pray for the lives lost, their families, even the hostage taker and his family. And please pray for my country, that we will be able to turn this situation around to our advantage and to avoid the same thing from happening again in the future.


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    • profile image

      Randele Arcilla 

      7 years ago

      After the One Years Later, for the Hong Kong suvivors and parents was came back to the Philippines and there returned in Manila for the carrying out of justice of the first year anniversary of the August 23, 2010 Manila Hostage Crisis and they loving memories of death and tragic of eight Chinese nationals from Hong Kong are lost their lives.



    • profile image

      Randele Arcilla 

      7 years ago

      We pray for us of good eight Chinese nationals and tourists from Hong Kong are killed and shot dead are had lost their lives by bad devil ex-cop Rolando Mendoza at the front and inside the bus during remembering and the loving memories from the incident victims at the Manila Hostage Crisis in August 23, 2010.

      * The prayers of the Chinese-Filipino Communities in the Philippines during the August 23, 2010 Manila Hostage Crisis, Lord Jesus Pray for Us!

      * The prayers of the Filipino Catholic bishops and Chinese Buddhist monks during the August 23, 2010 Manila Hostage Crisis, Lord Jesus Pray for Us!

      * The prayers of the Chinese-Filipino Catholic priests during the August 23, 2010 Manila Hostage Crisis, Lord Jesus Pray for Us!

      * The prayers of the Chinese-Filipino Buddhist monks during the August 23, 2010 Manila Hostage Crisis, Lord Jesus Pray for Us!

      *The prayers of the remembering and loving memories of good eight Chinese nationals and tourists from Hong Kong are had lost their lives going to Heaven during the August 23, 2010 Manila Hostage Crisis, Lord Jesus Pray for Us!

      *The prayers of the message of the Pope Saints of the Vatican and the Archdiocese of Manila of the memories of dead eight Hong Kong nationals during the August 23, 2010 Manila Hostage Crisis, Lord Jesus Pray for Us!

      * Sacred Heart of Jesus, Pray for Us!

      * Immaculate Heart of Mary, Pray for Us!

      * The Holy Child of Jesus, Pray for Us!

      * Saint Lorenzo Ruiz of Manila, Pray for Us!

      * Our Father Jesus Nazarene of Quiapo, Pray for Us!

      * Our Lady of Penafrancia de Manila, Pray for Us!

      * Holy Child of Tondo, Pray for Us!

      * Holy Child of Pandacan, Pray for Us!

      * Our Lady of La Naval de Manila, Pray for Us!

      * Our Lady Queen of China, Pray for Us!

      * Virgin of Sheshan, Pray for Us!

    • profile image

      Randele Arcilla 

      7 years ago

      Some many American Hollywood Celebrities using the tweet accounts for the victims of Manila Hostage Crisis on August 23, 2010 for remembering the deaths of eight Chinese Hong Kong nationals.

    • georgiecarlos profile image


      8 years ago from Philippines

      Thanks for sharing! I remember watching this on TV and getting updates through ANC new's twitter. When the whole ordeal ended, I remember feeling confused, angry,upset, and a little embarrassed about the whole thing. However, probably one of the worst thing for me wasn't the lack of training of the Philippine police or the government (even though I will not deny that these factors played a part in this situation) but the reaction of the people. Some would make fun of the police, making jokes, without considering that they did try, they just didn't know how. But what frustrated me the most was the lack of concern from the people. I have seen tweets from people that their main concern is not being allowed to go to Hong Kong. The next few days after the event, people would be seen taking pictures in front of the bus as if it were some tourist spot. Yes, this event was quite horrible and saddening, and there are people at fault. However, I believe that, before people should evaluate themselves first before pointing fingers.

    • Lita C. Malicdem profile image

      Lita C. Malicdem 

      8 years ago from Philippines

      Embarrassing as it may, I also have my own thoughts over the blame game. That was just a fair reaction form anyone who saw the mayhem. Cops don't just wipe out a fellow cop, hence, the length of time spent in the hostage negotiation. I wrote a blog about the hostage-drama to reach out to whoever are concerned and with hope that justice be served to the victims and punishment to all at fault. Thanks Emie for sharing this.

    • SilentReed profile image


      8 years ago from Philippines

      Considering the tempered reaction of the Hong Kong chinese. The ongoing investigation should be credible and people responsible should be made accountable. The backlash would come if there is a perceived whitewash. Government officials should have learned their lessons and knee jerk reactions and temporary solutions should be avoided.

    • emievil profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Philippines

      I couldn't agree more Anonymous. I just hope the people who are making the sweeping generalizations re-think their thoughts and realize that what you wrote is true.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Do not make sweeping generalizations regarding Filipinos because of this incident, even the Philippines as a nation also mourn for this tragedy, it is understandable for the HK and the Chinese people all over the world to get angry or act with resentment, but that does not mean that Filipinos deserve to be maltreated by rude comments and hostile actions, if this incident happened in HK and 8 Filipinos were dead, for example, Filipinos will not be resentful to the HK as a people. Be angry at the right cause and at the right people….

    • emievil profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Philippines

      You and me both LeanMan. But I'm realistic, I know that this will happen again. I just hope that all parties learned from this incident and the next time something like this happens, the casualties are waaaayyyyyyyy lower and we won't lose as much face in front of the international community.

    • emievil profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Philippines

      You're welcome Hello. Until now I can't believe how the media showed everything. It's as if we have no secrets at all. At times like this, I wish they exercised some professional 'caution' in the interest of national security.

    • LeanMan profile image


      8 years ago from At the Gemba

      I watched the drama unfold on TFC during the day whilst I was working on my computer. The police appeared to be totally uncoordinated, and seemed to ba taking decisions locally... When they brought the flat topped vehicle alongside the back of the bus I thought they were going to go charging off the roof through the back window of the bus. But no such thing happened, they tried to go slowly through the single door emergency exit, that policeman that got shot in the centre of his helmet was so lucky..

      I just hope that they learn from this and even more I hope this never happens again..

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for a great hub. I always thought that it should be shown until a crisis like that is over. Family of the death hostage will always that see picture which is bad because it will wipe out their memories of the person.

    • emievil profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Philippines

      Thanks mquee. It is a sad affair and right now, a lot of people are viewing our country negatively. I hope we will all be able to recover from this affair, especially the victims and their families.

      @creativeone, thank you for visiting and reading my hub and for your comment.

    • creativeone59 profile image

      benny Faye Douglass 

      8 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      Thank you for a very interesting and sad hub,everyone like to blame someone else for their short comings. Thank you for sharing.Godspeed. creativeone59

    • mquee profile image


      8 years ago from Columbia, SC

      You are right blame will be placed and people accused. In any criminal situation, the crime should be put on the shoulders of the perpetrator and not a race, nation, gender, etc. Most people work hard everyday to provide for their families, so it is unfair to blame them for something beyond their control.

      I think media everywhere always jumps the gun when it comes to news coverage. Most media, now seem to want to turn serious and even horrifying news into entertainment. This is a well thought out hub.


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