Monday, August 30, 2010

Hostage taking in the Philippines - August 23, 2010

It has been a week now since the tragic hostage taking in the Philippines where innocent tourist died. This is a sad day for many Filipinos who once again became the headline in international press for an incident no one cannot be proud of.
As a civilian watching scenes unfold in-front of me, I am deeply saddened by the way things were handled during and after the incident.  

It is true that there were many loopholes in the way the PNP managed the situation.  The whole world saw how incapable and unequipped the police force is in handling a crisis like this. And even more embarrassing was how the media covered the incident without limitation on what is acceptable for the general public to view.  The Philippines have expressed their sympanthy and in humility have given all the necessary assistance to the victims and their family.

On the otherhand, we cannot blame the remorse felt by Hongkong nationals at this time.  Lives were lost and wounds still fresh. But this incident could happen to anybody anywhere.   It feels sad to hear news about unfair treatment to Filipinos who are working in HK.  They have not done wrong, it is not fair to charge one for another man's mistake.

I received a mail today and it got me thinking.  What have become of man?  Is it not that we all came from one divine God who have given each one of us a human heart to love.  Why and how have greed and anger turn this heart into stone.  I too am guilty...

Jesus Lord, please soften my heart. Teach me to love the way you do and in my small ways help me to spread love.  Amen.

Original message:
Subject: Family of tourists killed by crazed man: A Filipino family, that is, in Beijing

Interesting contrast/parallels......

The known facts are these:

On August 19, 2005, Emmanuel "Bong" Madrigal, a Manila-based Filipino executive of the multinational Shell, was visiting Beijing on vacation with his wife Vivian, his daugher Regina Mia, and two younger daughters. That day, they rode a tourist bus to Tiananmen Square, the heart of the capitol.

Upon arriving at the square, Emmanuel Madrigal was the first to descend from the bus, followed by Vivian and Regina Mia. A Chinese man wielding a scythe--in some reports it was described as a sword--suddenly appeared out of nowhere and hacked Emmanuel across his torso. He died on the spot. The man also attacked and seriously wounded Vivian. He then slashed at and killed Regina Mia. By this time, bystanders were trying to subdue the man, and Vivian shouted to her two other daughters to get away and save themselves. Somehow the girls made their way back to the hotel. Vivian was brought to a Beijing hospital, where she died several days later of her injuries.

An Associated Press report still circulating on the internet states that the killer was Wang Gongzuo, 25, a farmer from eastern China's Jiangsu province. He was sentenced to death for the murder of the Madrigals and executed a few weeks later, in September. The AP report states: 'Wang's motive for killing the two is unclear. After the incident occurred the Beijing Morning Post reported that he had wanted to 'affect society using extreme actions,' but didn't elaborate."

Reflect on the parallels. A family of vacationers on a tourist bus: the Leungs and the Madrigals. A killer out to "affect society using extreme actions": Mendoza and Wang. A massacre in a  public place of symbolic significance: The Quirino grandstand, where the presidential inauguration had been held just weeks before, and site of the civil society protests against the Marcos regime; and Tiananmen Square, since ancient times the symbol of the centralized power of the Chinese state, and site of the 1991 civil protests against the government.

In both incidents, the state failed miserably in protecting innocent tourists.

And there the parallels end.

President Aquino has apologized to the families of Mendoza’s victims and conveyed his sorrow to the people of Hongkong, Chief Executive Donald Tsang, and Ambassador Lin Jian Chao. The Philippine National Police acknowledge that they botched matters beyond comprehension. Philippine legislators, ahead of their Hongkong counterparts, called for a full investigation. Philippine media organizations are looking to their own culpability in the affair. And masses of ordinary Filipinos, on TV, radio, print, and the Internet, are expressing collective horror, remorse and pity over the terrible fate of the innocent tourists, and bow their heads in shame before the Hong Kong people's sorrow and anger.

That is how it should be, that is only right. But.

To this day, five years after it happened, there is no public record of any Chinese official acknowledging the tourist killings in Tiananmen Square and apologizing to the Madrigals, much less the Filipino people, for the murder of Emmanuel, Regina Mia and Vivian. Not a single expression of regret that the Chinese police failed in their duty to protect the lives of innocent tourists in the very heart of Beijing, in the symbolic center of a state that prides itself most of all for its ability to control and contain disorder. There was a total blackout on the part of the Chinese press, and, according to another news report, government censors quickly blocked many internet sites where Chinese users had begun to post comments about the killing. So we will likely never know what ordinary Chinese citizens had to say about about the incident. Maybe some of them were actually sorry for what happened.

The closest thing to expressed regret was in fact the final reported action of the killer Wang, who waived his right to appeal the sentence of execution, and got a bullet in the back of his head.

To add to the horror, it would appear that the Arroyo administration was complicit in the silence. No public statement was ever made by the Philippine government regarding the incident. Unlike in Hongkong, no flags were flown at half-mast in Manila, and no three-minute silence was observed to mark the deaths of the innocent Filipino tourists. No demand has ever been made by any Filipino official for an apology, and for an accounting.

A full investigation of the Quirino Grandstand killing is ongoing. But what of that other killing, also in August, five years ago in Tiananmen Square?

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