Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Manila Hostage Circus, err, Crisis

hat was it I was just saying yesterday that MLQ3 even quoted it with what is now obviously an undeserved incredulity --?
Speaking of La Presidente, Philippine Commentary, it seems to me, has made his peace (grudgingly) with the President because he believes there’s bigger fish to fry and everyone should lend a hand in giving her a backbone:
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is no Marcos because she doesn’t have the balls that Marcos had. She may have flirted with the idea of declaring martial law last year but apparently had enough sense to take the contrary advice of the former US Director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte after he dropped by all of a sudden in November 2005 (as revealed by resigned Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz). As long as the Senate and Supreme Court are there to keep her excesses in check, it’s really her capitulationist tendencies and overeagerness to give ransom to terrorists from time to time that we really have to worry about."
Made my peace with GMA? Or uncannily prescient? Though this is not a terrorist incident necessarily, but a fairly mundane hostage taking in the Philippine Archipelago (grenades and Uzis in a busload of 5 year old day care kids!) backbone is precisely what the government could have used all day today in the situation that suddenly arose this morning that is being called the Manila Hostage Crisis. Backbone, that is to control a situation that could easily have gone quite badly. Well okay, today was "smaller fish", but it's a big wide sea and I bet we shall now see dangerous copycat creativity from the protest movement and militant organizations. Imagine demanding free education for a couple of dozen day care kids whilst holding them hostage at gunpoint in a parked bus!

If anything, GMA's capitulationist disease seems to be virulently infectious as several of her key allies and the police were falling all over themselves in giving in to hostage-taker Jun Ducat's demands. Senator Bong Revilla and Amable Aguiluz (of AMA Computer Schools) both offered to pay for the education of the hostages, numbering 26 and not 32 as earlier reported. But for how many years and what courses is not clear...PhD's in criminology maybe? A demand for title to a piece of land was also acceded to. As for the police, the Boy Scouts could've done a better job keeping the thing from becoming a Media Feeding Frenzy and a Politician's Circus, with Luis Chavit Singson leading the parade of clowns in and out of the Plaza Lawton.

It is also the second time Mr. Ducat has pulled this kind of stunt. In the late eighties, he held hostage two priests of the San Roque parish using two fake hand grenades (revealed by then Manila Mayor, now Senator, and maybe again Mayor of Manila, Alfredo Lim) .

I've had several occasions recently to make the salient points which bears upon ransom and hostages .

Paying Ransom Guarantees The Next Kidnapping

Shake Them Awake At The Panamao Hilton

But was today's crisis a TERRORIST incident as contemplated under the new Human Security Act of 2007?

Of course not! That law is automatically suspended 2 months before and one month after every election, including the one in May. Terrorism won't be a crime in the Philippines under that law until July, 2007, and thereafter, only part of each election year... a great big LOOPHOLE someone could drive a 6 by 6 terrorist truck bomb through, someday.

How nice! In future, we shall surely see a rash of criminal acts that feed the frenzies of Media just as the Politicians are at their most hypocritically obsequious whilst campaigning during every election season.


manuelbuencamino said...

“TERRORISM is organized crime to achieve the political and ideological end of overthrowing the legitimate government by illegitimate means. –DJB”

is he guilty of terrorism?

Rizalist said...

Hahaha! How can he be guilty of terrorism when the law is SUSPENDED two months before every election and one month after? Or haven't you been paying attention?

Your question is purely academic (though not moot!)

Rizalist said...

However to indulge the academic in you MB, what is the "organized criminal" activity he is engaged in? Is he really trying to overthrow the legitimate govt.
Realized the terms in my definition are not to be taken colloquially. For example by organized criminal activity, I mean activity defined or typified in the RICO statutes which targeted the Mafia.

Naaah...he is a serial hostage taker that ought to be put behind bars using the Revised Penal Code on hostage taking, kidnapping, or other applicable statute.

manuelbuencamino said...

so he does not qualify as a terrprist under your definition. What if he spewed Maoist lines or kept shouting Allah Akbar. Would he then become a terrorist under your definition?

shouldn't the police investigate if he has any ties to communist or muslim organizations?

manuelbuencamino said...

By the way, i was wrong to presume you would not go technical on me with that two months blah, blah. You know what I'm getting at.

I'm trying to validate your definition of terrorism.

Also does he fit the description under your beloved anti-teror law?

Rizalist said...

You sound disappointed, MB. But surely even you must admit that MOTIVE is a big part of what constitutes any criminal act. If you are trying to invalidate the definition, remember that whatever doesn't kill it only makes it stronger.

manuelbuencamino said...

I am disappointed. I'm trying yo get a striaght answer from you.

Rizalist said...

It would be a terrorist act if he did it to advance the political and ideological ends of a organized criminal syndicate like the NPA or Al Qaeda, (even if he were not spewing Maoist lines or shouting Allahu "al-Akhbar.")

Implicit in my definition are illegal and illegitimate MEANS being employed for the purpose of achieving what could otherwise be perfectly legal or legitimate ENDS as well as illegal and illegitimate ones, like a dictatorship of the proletariat or theocracy.

Means, motives, and ends should always be morally consistent.

manuelbuencamino said...

I see. So he is not a terrorist under your definition.

So the anti-terror bill is not aimed at stopping acts of terror. It is directed against organizations you associate with terror.

Rizalist said...

You're just playing with words again MB. I think it is because you do not believe there is such a thing as terrorism, or that there are actually people and organizations that feel justified in using violent means toward political and ideological ends. You don't believe terrorism can be defined because you do not actually believe it exists.

If you don't agree with this statement, can you offer ANY DEFINITION of terrorism yourself?

manuelbuencamino said...

I am not playing with words. You are. Acts of terror were covered under the Revised Penal Code.

I dont have to define terrorism because acts of terror are covered under the Revised Penal Code,

There are groups who use terror as a means, Those acts are punishable under existing laws.

You played with words, You revised the Revised Penal Code and added a new dimension to criminal acts.

Ducat is the best example of your word games. He committed an act of terror but he us not a terrorist according to you.

Rizalist said...

People said that too when the RICO statutes were first debated and organized crime syndicates came in for special treatment under the Law. It was also argued then that the existing laws covered the individual acts of Mafia soldati. But the fact of organized crime bore unmistakeable characteristics distinct from ordinary crimes. It was not sufficient to prosecute the "arms" while the "brains" kept out of sight and invulnerable because often the Godfathers were removed many layers from the soldati. It's the same with the CPP NPA and with AQ. I don't see why you find it so important to defend that setup they have.

What is amazing is your claim that you don't have to define terrorism when it is the very topic you are debating with me!

manuelbuencamino said...

Covered na nga ang acts under the RBP.

And my contention has always beem terrorism cannot be defines. You've know that has always been my contention so wjy force me to define something I've told you I cannot define and neither can you, satisfactorily that is.

You keep citing the RICO statutes. The things is the RICO statutes are clear.

Under the RICO statutes you can't be a Mafia and not be a Mafia at the same time. Under your anti-terror law, and specia;;y under your definition, Ducat is a terrorist and not a terrorist.

So Ducat is the best example of your word games. He committed an act of terror but he us not a terrorist according to you.

manuelbuencamino said...

RPC pala

Rizalist said...

There is a particular name for the kind of intellectual quagmire you are in with respect to terrorism: OBSCURANTISM.

You claim that all the possible acts of terrorist groups and individuals are already covered by the RPC. Yet terrorism itself you cannot, or will not define, because you claim it is impossible to do so, satisfactorily that is. In the past you've expressed the fear that the term terrorist will be used as a deadly label to deprive people of their human and civil rights. Yet fascists have no need for such excuses or fine definitions to justify their repressions. Nor do terrorists. But it helps their cause when their enemies and targets refuse to accept their existence as a definite, definable entity.

Obscuratism is the philosophy of the sheep, just before they are slaughtered.

john marzan said...

i don't think ducat is a terrorist. but he is a prankster who should be in jail for pulling this stunt.

Rizalist said...

Yet his methods are uncannily similar to "conventional terrorists"--I think this presages a new era of innovative protest actions which will try to stay on the same side of seeming harmlessness as this, but in which the failure of brinkmanship will be disastrous for us all, especially the victims.

engineerOFW said...

The FBI acknowledges that there is no universally-accepted definition of terrorism. Nonetheless, the FBI provides its definition of terrorism, as follows:
Terrorism is defined in the Code of Federal Regulations as “...the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.” (28 C.F.R. Section 0.85)

The definition elaborates on domestic and international terrorism. Do pay particular attention to the "methods" enumerated --- mass destruction, kidnapping and assasination.

Domestic terrorism refers to activities that involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any state; appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; to influence the policy of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States. [18 U.S.C. § 2331(5)]

International terrorism involves violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or any state, or that would be a criminal violation if committed within the jurisdiction of the United States or any state. These acts appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping and occur primarily outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States or transcend national boundaries in terms of the means by which they are accomplished, the persons they appear intended to intimidate or coerce, or the locale in which their perpetrators operate or seek asylum. [18 U.S.C. § 2331(1)]

Ducat's action is terrorism (action = kidnapping, intent is to coerce the government).

The Vietnam-era style of calling attention to a cause via self-immolation is not terrorism. Planning to bomb a number of Metro-Manila gasoline stations to extort money from Petron is not terrorism. Planning to bomb a number of Metro-Manila gasoline stations to force Congress or GMA to lower gasoline taxes becomes terrorism, while planning to snarl rush-hour traffic won't.

NOTE: law is finding a person guilty of committing a crime. Justice is determining the appropriate punishment. Ducat-the-terrorist likely merits a more lenient penalty (to jail until a panel of 5 psychiatrists unanimously certify to his safety) than the next set of JI or AbuSayyaf operatives who target a SuperFerry or passenger bus.

Rizalist said...

MB, Engineer:

I think it is possible for persons to be prosecuted under the Anti Terrorism Law for crimes therein proscribed, without necessarily putting them in an Order of Battle Document like a list of Terrorist Organizations and Individuals like the US and EU have.

What do you think?

varga said...

Hostage Taking and TV Justice

How wonderfully Philippine television hosts have justified the list of demands of a recent hostage taker, and subsequently cleansed the moral palate of their mass viewership. This man who took hostage children to shield him from policemen's bullets is certainly without fault. He only demands an assurance of education for his captive children, plus a list of demands only a national leader could possibly deliver. The opposition’s political coalition saw nothing wrong in the nature & course of his actions, and vocally sympathized with all his pleas. Guns, grenades and other threats to the children’s safety suddenly disappeared before TV commentators’ eyes as it focused on the ratings glue.

Collectively, media and interested parties hinged onto the incident to absolve the hostage taker of all the psychological trauma he had caused parents and children to suffer for several years to come. I was equally traumatized by the country’s collective callousness: a TV station contending for fresh live interviews of the personalities involved; a party spokesperson turning back on his foreign education to cling on to every last shred of underdog support; politicians taking hostage of television cameras; media creating their own masa heroes; a government spokesperson expressly “embarrassed” by the actions of his own countryman before CNN and BBC.

Gutom ako, pero hindi pa ako tanga. We all know we can do better than this. This is the kind of collective drag we don’t need to soar. (Justice seems sweeter over at Korean telenovela-land.)