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article imageOp-Ed: Why I think Judilyn and son should have been held hostage instead

By Ron de Vera     Aug 23, 2010 in World
Manila - Yesterday, Rolando Mendoza got tired of waiting for the slow-paced Office of the Ombudsman to review his case. The only recourse for him was to hijack a bus and hold passengers hostage until his demands were met.
A few hours after, CNN caught the story and posted it on its Twitter account. Henceforth, the world watched as the Philippines took center stage.
It was a curious study of human behavior. CNN did a livestream coverage. This angered some to the point of blaming the media for escalating the situation. A "We're really sorry, Hong Kong" Facebook page was created. Carlos Celdran, via his Facebook account asked that we not "Let this shit in Luneta trend on twitter" and that the "fucker wants publicity." A friend of mine, also via Facebook, found it funny, calling it a spoof of the movie Speed, and was embarrassed by how the police handled it.
What struck me the most was how Carlos Conde questioned all this reaction in his entry "Manila hostage-taking: Where’s the sense of proportion?" His last paragraph sums up the article quite nicely:
"If people in the tourism industry can cry to the heavens about the impact of an incident involving 25 Chinese tourists – who, by the looks of it, might be released safely, and I pray to God that they’d be -- but don’t have the moral sense to decry the brutal murders of more than 1,200 people in the last 10 years and, worse, do not even see how such an atrocity can affect not just them but the country itself, then that’s just sad."
Conde spoke too soon, though. The latest news from GMA reported that nine died. But sure enough, Hong Kong has already issued a black alert on all travels to the Philippines. All this hype and attention is the point of Conde's contention.
As with any opinion, it elicited both positive and negative reactions, well, mostly negative. And the anonymity that the Internet provided these readers seemed to have taken away all signs of culture, education, professionalism, and even knowledge of basic grammar (both English and Tagalog).
Conde was curtly asked by an anonymous user to "kindly please go to hell. everyone's panicking and you're pissed with the filipino mindset? what's wrong with you?"
Amanda said "same way as you'd make a big deal over the death of a fellow communist. Normal people would also ask you "whats the big deal"...same here, Filipinos are just concern with these friendly tourist who went in here knowing that the Philippines is a safe country...we're just afraid that they might think otherwise...oh by the way you write this article you're pointing out that the Philippines is hell on Earth...shame on you for still putting leftist idealism on this hostage incident...pwehhhh"
And Oliver followed this up with "The author sympathizes with the hostage taker because he seems like a pro-communist and communist burns busses, towns, loot other people's houses, asks for "revolutionary tax" under the guise of fighting for freedom and search for justice. SUmama ka dun Mister samahan mo yung pulis na ng hostage di yung jan ka lng sa harap ng computer mo... (Go join the hostage-taker instead of staying in front of your computer)."
The more negative comments I read, the more I was convinced that Conde was being condemned for reminding us that there are other cases that deserve the same amount of attention. It was also interesting to see such hatred and disgust the readers had on "leftists" and "leftist issues." But what I personally found amusing was how some readers, by bashing the article, actually strengthened and validated the point he was trying to make. They have been so moved by this incident that they have such passion to attack Conde. But where is this passion in speaking out for thousands of human rights victims in the last 10 years? Well, Pastilan said "Nakakatawa naman itong mga leftists, patuloy na nagtutulak ng obsolete na ideology (These leftists are funny, they continue pushing for an ideology that is obsolete)."
This prompted me to do my own little comparative research on key terms like "morong 43," "Judilyn Oliveros," "PNP torture," "Hacienda Luisita," and finally, "hostage Philippines."
The words "morong 43" yielded 30 results. "Judilyn Oliveros" returned 12 results. "PNP torture" showed 44 results. "Hacienda Luisita" had 92 results. And finally, the words "hostage Philippines" yielded 2,120 results
And to make sure that all these results were related to the hostage situation in the Philippines, I went through each results page to check if (1) there was mention of the Philippines in the excerpt and (2) the page was created with the last 24 hours.
Indeed, to echo Conde's inquiry, where is the sense of proportion?
Now, I agree that this is a tragic event. The nine innocent people did not deserve to die. And I am one with the nation (and the world) in grieving this loss. But just remember that in a few months, when all efforts have been made to mend relationships with Hong Kong, when the nine dead have been buried, and the Philippines is once again a delightful destination for those who have cash to burn, thousands of families will remain displaced from militarized areas, 10,500 farmers in Hacienda Luisita will still till tracts of land that they should own but are still in the claws of landlords, 43 health workers arrested on a defective warrant will still remain in jail, and hundreds of victims of enforced disappearances will remain missing.
This is the true condition of the Philippines, not a hijacked tourist bus. Yet sadly, It will never amount to even a few hundred pages on Google. And because it is linked to an "obsolete" ideology, it doesn't deserve the same attention from the tourism industry and the rest of the nation. All it deserves are a handful of rants and vocalized complaints among concerned citizens before they pop a bottle of soda and watch the Ms. Universe beauty pageant.
So you see, if Judilyn and her barely one-month-old baby were somehow intercepted when she was removed from the hospital and transferred to prison, whisked into a bus, and held hostage for a day, she just might have the same fame on the Internet and the world just might have a better understanding of the condition of the Philippines.
Where is the sense of proportion, you ask? It's somewhere past convenience, near sensationalism and image.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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