How come that we’re the first to put our country down?

August 31, 2010

William M. Esposo
Philippine Star
August 31, 2010

AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR:

The Captain Rolando Mendoza Hostage Tragedy exposed the Filipino tendency to be the country’s greatest national security risk. This flaw in the national character is promoted by irresponsible media which also manifest signs of idiocy — not knowing the truth.

The fact is our government and people have more than undertaken enough to express our collective regret and apology over the hostage tragedy. The fact is President Noynoy Aquino (P-Noy) has more than bent over backwards to try to ease the pain of the Chinese people, including those in Hong Kong where most of the fatalities came from. The fact is that there is a multi-agency probe underway and there is no attempt to cover up for anybody.

The fact is the Hong Kong officials have been exceeding their limits on what they can say and do under diplomatic protocol. The fact is that the Hong Kong Journalist Association erred when they cited P-Noy for allegedly blaming media for the tragedy because P-Noy did no such thing — but merely mentioned that media (specifically broadcast media) added to the problems. The fact is the national government had nothing to do with draping the Philippine flag over the casket of Captain Rolando Mendoza.

So how come Philippine media sensationalized all the negative aspects of the Hong Kong issues without as much as citing the facts governing these? What kind of journalism is that? It was as if our media was on the payroll of Hong Kong masters — buying and disseminating every line Hong Kong throws at us and our government. This goes beyond the issue of corruption in media and simply borders on treason.

How come when the issue of Mendoza’s flag draped casket was raised, media here did not even bother to check if this was a government initiative, was done with government consent or simply an individual act? How come nobody, except Senator Kiko Pangilinan, bothered to place this issue in its proper perspective?

Sen. Pangilinan stated: “While I personally object to and disagree with the using of the flag to cover the casket of Mendoza, there is no law that explicitly bans the use of the flag in such a manner and therefore we will have to respect the individual freedoms of our people.”

He added: “We ask for China’s understanding in that we live under different systems and what may be prohibited and banned in their nation may not be so in ours. We are both sovereign nations and trust that China in the final analysis will respect Philippine sovereignty and not bully a small nation like the Philippines despite the recent hostage taking tragedy involving their nationals.”

China should be the last to posture as if they hold a candle to us when it comes to preventing tragedies like the Luneta Grandstand Incident. On August 19, 2005, Shell executive Emmanuel Madrigal and his family alighted from a tourist bus in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square when they were attacked by a blade wielding man, later identified as 25-year old Wang Gongzuo. Emmanuel Madrigal and his daughter Regina Mia died from that attack.

Did a Chinese official apologize to the Madrigal family, the Philippine government or the Filipino people for their failure to protect Filipino tourists in one of the most visited sites in their capital? Was there even an official expression of regret from the Chinese government for that failure to protect visitors in what is expected to be a well secured area? Where then do they get the gall and the temerity to disrespect us and our president due to a similar incident?

So, how come we pander to all these assertions by Chinese officials and journalists emanating from the Luneta Hostage Tragedy? How come our media pander to all these violations of protocol, baseless attacks and arrogance of Chinese officials?

When China raised the issue, how come our media did not even bother to explain the facts surrounding the draping of the Philippine flag over Captain Mendoza’s casket? How come our media did not even take Hong Kong’s Donald Tsang to task for violating protocol and even complaining about P-Noy’s inability to take his call? How come our media disseminated Hong Kong’s demand to conduct their own forensic probe without as much as stating that this entails sovereignty issues and is only allowed under a special accommodation? Have our media been secretly bought by the Chinese for them to espouse the Chinese line like this?

Frankly, many Filipinos have been more circumspect about this hostage tragedy than Philippine media. On Facebook and the blogs, you’ll see many Filipinos who have taken China and the Hong Kong local government to task for their arrogance and overbearing attitude towards us and our government.

Hostage Crisis Handling can be easily addressed by proper staffing, better planning and training and the procurement of better equipment. The bigger Philippine tragedy which is more difficult to address is our damaged culture. We are our country’s greatest enemies, especially those who have a major influence on how we acquire information and shape our opinions.

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