"..a bardy view!"

The Keystone Cops – Philippines Style….

The dust is far from settling. In fact a veritable typhoon is stirring the already disturbed debacle of the Manila bus hostage crisis.

It's one of the most viewed pages on the BBC news website 10 things the Philippines bus siege police got wrong. It was a fiasco of the first order. The Philippines National Police (PNP) and their Swat team, forever to be remembered as the Keystone Cops, produced a comic drama which would be laughable had it not resulted in such tragic consequences.

The deplorable loss of life, the anger from Hong Kong and China, the image of the Philippines as a safe destination, and the growing global condemnation are all factors which this country will have to deal with. Their new president needs to grasp these issues bull and horn, and already heads are rolling.

The astonishing images broadcast live around the world may have made riveting viewing, but they exposed a fundamental problem with discipline, lack of professionalism, crowd control and voyeuristic media irresponsibility.

But whilst the world may be shocked at the events in the Philippines capital, it's important to remember that this was not a terrorist attack. It was a grievance by one man who lost his job believing he was badly treated.

Suggestions imply that he was mad. He wasn't. He was stupid. Stupid enough to believe that by hijacking a tourist bus he would get his job back. That's the issue. This chap was a respected career police officer, who was dismissed because of accusations of corruption. They may be true, they may not, but this loss of dignity surely developed into a festering sore which would result in his death. His ultimate crime was that he took the lives of innocent people along with his own.

But the media are just as guilty in this scenario. The Hostage taker could see events in real time courtesy of the television crews. The police should have enforced a blackout – they didn't. The news editors should have exercised responsible journalism – they didn't.

Its ironic that the Philippines is one of the most dangerous countries for investigative journalists, yet the very business they represent were partly responsible for the deaths on the Manila tourist bus.

But don't blame the Philippines' news media solely for their irresponsibility. They adopt the same exploitative and sensational reporting renown in the USA. It is the US were their influences originate.

So the new president of the Philippines has much to do. But he has unwillingly adopted a cultural and political apathetic legacy which saw poor investment in all areas of public services from a previous administration which lacked ability in every aspect of government.

This is a test of his ability and strength. Can he meet the challenge?

If he fails then the Philippines will continue to be regarded as a dysfunctional and dangerous country, beset by social and economic problems.

A country where state and church are in a marriage of convenience – where one is impotent and the other celibate. That is a most unproductive relationship.


August 27, 2010 - Posted by | Culture, Current Affairs, Politics, The Philippines, Travel | , , , , , , , , ,

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