Honasan wants review of existing laws to prevent another hostage-taking crisis

August 27, 2010 10:58 am 

By Jelly F. Musico

MANILA, Aug. 26 – Senator Gregorio "Gringo" Honasan suggested on Thursday the conduct of an inventory of all the related existing laws to prevent another bloody hostage-taking crisis from happening in the future.

Honasan announced this after a grueling seven-hour Senate investigation on the hostage-taking incident that left nine people dead, including hostage-taker former Police Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza, near the Quirino Grandstand in Manila last Monday.

”We might have to intervene through legislation, but we will examine first. We suggest that we conduct an inventory of all the related and existing laws,” Honasan said in a media interview.

Honasan, a former military colonel, said the Senate inquiry is not intended to determine who should be blamed in the gruesome hostage crisis that claimed the lives of eight tourists from Hong Kong and the hostage-taker himself.

”We want to find the weaknesses in the law. We will recommend as soon as we finish our next round of hearing,” he said.

Honasan said a technical working group will be formed and will conduct a series of sessions to get up-dates on the ongoing investigations being conducted by the Philippine National Police (PNP).

”Whatever the inputs of the TWG will be included in our recommendation. All this is in-aid of legislation,” Honasan said.

At the same time, the lawmaker appealed to the Filipino people to avoid “over-blaming ourselves,” saying what happened should be a collective responsibility.

”Even Congress (is partly blamed) for failing to exercise its oversight functions by looking more closely at how the laws are being implemented,” Honasan said.

He said the lapses of handling the hostage-taking crisis should not also be cause "for us to lose our national self-confidence and pride because this is not peculiar to the Philippines.”

”Don’t blame the media, don’t blame the PNP. Let us look at this more soberly. I know the passions are high, the emotions are high, but let’s calm down,” Honasan said.

Honasan also urged President Benigno S. Aquino III to carry the country’s sympathies for the families of the victims when the President attends an international conference in a few weeks' time.

”At the same time, we want him to help us as a nation to move forward and carry the national pride as a member of the community of nations as we do our homework, train harder and coordinate better that a similar incident, which we pray will not happen, but if happens, we must be able to respond effectively,” Honasan said.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente Sotto III supported Honasan, saying, "We should not worry too much about the international repercussion.”

”Bali, Indonesia has been bombed so many times by Indonesian terrorists but the tourists keep coming back. We should avoid the practice of the Filipino of self-flagellation,” Sotto said.

Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jess Robredo recommended the review of the protocol in handling sensitive and crucial police operations like hostage-taking.

Robredo said he just followed the protocol when he proposed that Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim should take charge in forming a crisis management committee, being the head of the local government where the hostage-taking incident took place.

Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri dared the DILG and PNP officials to come up with “honest-to-goodness investigation” as an initial step to rebuild the country’s image in the international community.

Zubiri also revealed that the PNP has over P122 million budget for acquiring anti-terrorism equipment and communication gadgets, but PNP officials admitted during the hearing that "they are not sure where these are." (PNA)

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