Fall-out from the bungled hostage rescue effort last Monday which claimed the lives of eigth Hongkong tourists are now starting to be felt. Bookings to the Philippines by tourists from Hongkong and elsewhere are being cancelled one after another with no end of such cancellations in sight. Even without official advisory, other potential tourists have decided to cancel their trip to the country after the tragic incident at the Quirino grandstand got worlwide publicity.
As part of the fall-out, Filipino domestic helpers in Hongkong are at risk of losing their jobs due to the emotional backlash over the tragedy. Some have already been dismissed by their employers in an apparent expression of sympathy for the victims of the botched rescue efforts.
The sheer incompetence of those charged with the task of rescuing the hostages was too obvious even for ordinary obervers to see. More than the lack of the necessary equipment for effective rescue operations, it was simply the lack of creativity and decisiveness on the part of the hostage negotiatiors, the ground commander and the crisis management group which doomed the rescue efforts to its eventual failure.
Malacanang has openly admitted that there have been lapses and weaknesses in the entire rescue operation. And it has threatened to punish those responsible for these shortcomings. Perhaps, it could start with itself by explaining more credibly why the President could not be reached by Hongkong’s Donald Tsang who was trying to reach President Aquino III at the height of the crisis situation.
Then, it could stop passing the buck to the previous administration for its weak and poor leadership in this tragic incident. Instead, it should own up to its own shortcomings and take measures to correct and overcome them. Buck-passing has never been a sign of effective leadership.
Many of those who were monitoring the incident were overwhelmed by a sense of guilt and shame at the way the entire rescue effort was mishandled by those whom we expect to be on top of the situation, ending up in the senseless loss of innocent lives and the almost universal bashing our country got in the aftermath of the incident.
We all know that Filipinos are capable of doing much, much better than this as shown by our compatriots performance in foreign lands. Unfortunately, it is not likely to happen soon given the prevailing culture of “palusot” and “puede na” among the leadership of our country that has somehow permeated the larger society.
The promised investigation of the tragic event may even lack the credibility that people are expecting from the authorities. It has been our experience that such official investigations tend to exonerate guilty parties from any commensurate accountability and because such investigations lack transparency, they tend to end up whitewashing the incidents being investigated.
This is known to Chinese authorities and so their lack of enthusiasm perhaps in receiving the official delegation being sent by the Philippine government to explain the results of any investigation of the tragic event conducted so far.
Whatever the reason behind their lukewarm reception to the proposed government delegation, the fall-out from the incident is expected to continue, despite kind efforts coming from such celebrity as Jackie Chan to minimize the negative impact of the tragic event.
Again, we have here a classic case of the citizenry suffering from the sheer incompetence of our public officials. Meanwhile, we ordinary citizens seem not to have much of an option but to grin and bear it, until the next election when we can then replace the incompetents to prevent tragedies like this from taking place.
That is for the elective ones. The incompetent appointed ones should be replaced and reassigned quick enough to places where they can do little or no damage at all to the citizenry and foreign tourists alike. # nordis.net