Quirino Grandstand Ethical Analysis

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I. Introduction

The Issue:
Lost in the aftermath of the investigation into what is now known as “Rizal Park hostage-taking incident” was the negative role of the Media played that added fuel to the shooting incident. Most of the major TV companies represented by their top news reporters, by communicating directly to the hostage-taker and by broadcasting the arrest of his brother, even though they know that a TV set was being used inside the bus, compromised and tied the hands of the negotiators to have the upper hand in the negotiation. The sight of his brother being arrested pushed the hostage-taker to start shooting the innocent victims. Although most of these Broadcast companies were found to be in violation of Section 4, Article 6 of the KBP Broadcast Code, which states “The coverage of crimes or crisis situations shall not provide vital information or offer comfort or support to the perpetrators”, with a fine of no more than P30,000.00, not one of them accepted direct responsibility and explicitly apologized for the said fiasco. KBP cannot even sanction one major TV Company since it was not a member. The only positive output that came from this incident was the revision of Article 6 of the Broadcast code that added 9 more sections from the current 6 sections, that addresses the rules that are “vague and incomplete” like delaying the airing of the live footage, Media should assume the hostage-taker have access to all types of broadcast, the right to life takes precedence over the right to information, etc…

The Manila hostage crisis, officially known as the The Luneta Hostage-Taking Fiasco, occurred when a dismissed Philippine National Police officer took over a tourist bus in Rizal Park, Manila, Philippines on August 23, 2010. A disgruntled former Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza of the Manila Police District (MPD), hijacked a tourist bus carrying 25 people (20 tourists and a tour guide from Hong Kong, and four Filipinos) in an attempt to get his job back. He said that he had been summarily and unfairly dismissed, and that all he wanted was a fair hearing and the opportunity to defend him. Negotiations broke down dramatically about ten hours into the stand-off, when the police arrested Mendoza's brother and thus incited him to open fire. As the shooting began, the bus driver managed to escape, and was shown on television saying "Everyone is dead" before being whisked away by policemen. Mendoza and eight of the hostages were eventually killed and a number of others injured. The MPD's failed rescue attempt and gun-battle with the hijacker, which took around 90 minutes, were watched by millions on live television and the internet. The Philippine and Hong Kong governments conducted separate investigations into the incident. Both inquiries judged that the victims had been unlawfully killed, and identified the Philippine officials' poor handling of the incident as the cause of the eight hostages’ deaths. The assault mounted by the MPD, and the resulting shoot-out, have been widely criticized by pundits as "bungled" and "incompetent", thus making the Hong Kong Government to issue a "black" travel alert for the Philippines as a result of the affair.

About the Perpetrator
Philippine National Police identified the perpetrator or the hostage taker as Rolando Mendoza, a former commissioned police officer. He demanded to be reinstated with benefits to his previous post at the Manila Police District from which he had been dismissed in 2009 amidst allegations of extortion.

The Assault
Rolando Mendoza witnessed the arrest of his brother through the television from the bus and this made him troubled and frantic.  Reports indicate that he fired warning shots as he saw his brother and son being carried away by the police. Using the radio as the main source of communication from Mendoza to the police, he demanded the release of his brother or else he would be executing the hostages one by one. He later then revealed...
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