Security experts criticize handling of hostage crisis; police admit "defects"

International security experts have criticized the handling of the hostage crisis at the Quirino Grandstand on August 23, reports AFP via ABS-CBNNews.com. "The fact that there was essentially live video was mistake number one," said Assistant Professor John Harrison, a homeland security analyst at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Harrison said there should have been a media blackout so that the hostage taker Rolando Mendoza would not have been able to monitor the police movement reported by the press. President Noynoy Aquino has said in a GMANews.tv report that the government did not impose a media blackout because they "cannot censor (the press) for things (they) have yet to do."

Frederic Gallois, former commander of France’s rescue unit National Gendarmerie Intervention Group, told AFP that the bus assault of the police was "badly prepared and risky." He said the police "visibly lacked adequate equipment and tactical competence." Also, the police, "did not attempt a surprise tactic like entering the bus at several points and had also stayed too long outside the vehicle before launching their assault," the AFP paraphrased Gallois’ statement.

A retired Philippine military official, who declined to be named, told AFP that the police had the expertise and equipment but "the execution was poorly done." He also criticized the "stop-go negotiations and ’tentative’ assault." He said, "Contact (between the negotiators and the hostage taker) should have been constant. It’s the talking that does a lot... When you order an assault, it has to be an assault. There is no such thing as a tentative assault. If 10 policemen have to die, they have to die in that assault."

News on Q video: PNP defends action in Manila hostage crisis

The police have admitted "defects" in the handling of the hostage-taking situation, Philippine National Police spokesperson Senior Supt. Agrimero Cruz said in an Inquirer.net report. The report said, "These include the poor handling of the hostage negotiation, ’side issues and events that further agitated the hostage taker,’ inadequate capability, skills, equipment and planning of the assault team, improper crowd control, and the noncompliance to media relations procedures in hostage situations."

Cruz said in the Inquirer.net report, "In our point of view, given the situation and our meager resources, we did well... Our policemen were brave. Even without protective clothing, they did their job because the order was to assault." He added, "There is nothing perfect. We always have to improve."

The hostage crisis will be investigated, Lacierda said according to GMANews.tv. Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo will head the Philippine side of the investigation and a certain Guo Shao Chueen will head the Hong Kong side.

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For more on this story, log on to ABS-CBNNews.com and Inquirer.net.

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