Wasted lessons: The IIRC report on the Mendoza hostage massacre

For me, the recently released report of the Incident Investigation and Review Committee (IIRC) headed by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima spelled out culpability at the operational level — breakdown in the chain of command, non-performance and lack of prudence observed in the civilian executive officer within whose local jurisdiction the whole episode transpired, reckless impudence on the part of the Media in how they hindered the flow of the negotiations and ultimately fatally compromised it, etcetera, etcetera. It had identified a dozen or so low-level fall guys and all but localised the incident — effectively exonerating our collective macro-level cultural accountability for this needless tragedy as a people.

But can we the Filipino people be really let off easy, thanks to the way the IIRC report had now introduced specificity to the blame surrounding this terrible tragedy?

Perhaps I have to concede that esteemed Inquirer.net columnist Conrado de Quiros was right in highlighting in a recent piece, that this report is meant more for the eyes of Filipinos first. After all, much of what was described in the IIRC report is relevant only to an internal witch hunt. They are relevant to us who know our own internal pettiness and smallness but offer not much real insight to external observers who are trying to come to terms with the enormity of the incompetence they witnessed in living colour unfold in their living rooms. While we are, among ourselves, able to point fingers at this or that bozo, to an external observer who sees only Filipinos and our country the Philippines, we all come across as just a bunch of idiots sitting in a pop car trying to move it forward by pushing and pulling against one another.

Basic physics tells us that internal forces within a body cancel out each other and do not contribute to moving said body overall.

And on that note, the greatest physicist of them all did say this:

Problems cannot be solved by applying the same thinking that created them.

For every two-bit mayor, general , or Media moron we put behind bars or irrevocably disgrace in one or the other of these hearsay “investigations” that are conducted, another one of their kind will come out from the woodwork to take their place. This woodwork behind which an infinite supply of moronism resides is The System, said system being the underlying core of Da Pinoy Condition whose key three pillars we have for the longest time highlighted:

The Filipino Condition

In short, while the IIRC report is a pretty good report on the fact finding exercise mounted by Malacanang, it stops short of pointing out deep DEEP systemic issues at the very fibres that make up the very fabric of our society — the sorts of issues that make such tragedies endemic to Filipinos. It is my hope then that the effort to get to this level of change — no, reform — does not stop with mere names but go all the way to ideas that define us as a people — down to the very way Filipinos think (or not think) their way through overcoming all the challenges we face. Hopefully this is the sort of outlook we can come to expect over the next six years of the term of a President who pitched himself to us as one who is out for real reform.

Considering that it was ultimately a Malacanang official that headed the IIRC, it is really not that surprising that the buck lost altitude midway in its flight to the top of the command chain. So now we are stuck with mere names of mere people who in the overall scheme of Da Pinoy Condition will probably matter in all but the next six to twelve months (an optimistic reckoning considering our stunted collective capacity for remembering and learning). The challenge henceforth is to ensure we do not lose sight of the real nature of why things like this happen “onli in da Pilipins” — things like this being tragedies that happen again and again and again year in and year out whether they be civilian massacres (such as the one that is the subject of the IIRC report), buses going over cliffs killing people by the dozen, mudslides that bury people alive by the village load, or dilapidated inter-island ferries that routinely become the wattery tombs of thousands of Filipinos every year.

The IIRC report is a double-edged sword. On one edge is the blade that could likely cut through the necks of the dozen or so fall guys that were named, on the other edge is the blade that will cut our collective interest in learning the DEEP lessons this tragedy presents to us.


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29 Responses to Wasted lessons: The IIRC report on the Mendoza hostage massacre

  1. anonymous says:

    Herp derp, typical Filipino bullcr*p!

    The low-level guys take the blame while the top level brass who are the supposed “brains” behind these operations goes scot-free with no questions asked. F*cking Filipinos, how do they work?

  2. kid dynamo says:

    News came in that HK is not entirely satisfied on the report and have asked the Ombudsman to take a second look….strike one…

    I don’t know if PNoy got wind about it but now he saying “he is not convinced” on the report…

    its getting better and better

  3. bokyo says:

    Big fish always feed on the little fish to survive.

    Looks like the big sharks are still at the helm while the small-time trouts get the blame. Philippine media will still be the “media”, PNP still in shambles to recover integrity, while PNoy keeps on displaying a smiling dog face .

  4. J.B. says:

    HK perhaps expecting PNoy resignation.

  5. jemon says:

    But the mass media is getting easy on Pnoy. Rather than challenge the government for not releasing the entire report (the recommendations were not released), they started arguing for press freedom (even when they actually do not use it all that well as they should) in reference to the teaser that mass media is part of those to be charged (of whatever). And if the mass media is easy on Pnoy, the entire country surely will be too.

    • Aegis-Judex says:

      These days, the fourth estate has started to become the death of this nation. Willing to violate common sense in order to preserve that which they consider “press freedom,” it’s a miracle they managed to stay in this horrid place for so long.

  6. ChinoF says:

    One of the things I mused from the report is that it reflects the Balay-Samar factionalism. For example if the Yellow Camp is forced to that admit some of its own members are at fault, it will choose members of the Balay group to take the fall. But the Samar part is exonerated. Of course, Moreno is NP; but when you think of only Yellow camp members to cook, you might have the same observation.

  7. RainSantiago says:

    t Hong Kong is not very happy with the results of the report the fact that IIRC report couldn’t even make a conclusion whether it was friend fire or Mendoza’s Bullet that killed some of the hostages. Absolute fail once again by our government.

  8. yoseph says:

    Agree!! These chargeable people in the report are just MERE manifestations or symptoms of an underlying grand disease that is the Filipino Culture & Character. When fatal large-scale tragedies and “calamities” (like the hostage-taking at Quirino) happen WAY TOO OFTEN, they are OBVIOUSLY no longer isolated cases (*obvious* when seen through the lens of  *normal* societies, though; not through Pinoy lens) that can be brushed off as something “natural” or as what most Pinoys would argue “‘it’s something that happens everywhere in the world naman eh!” Yes they can also happen anywhere, but they never occur as CHRONIC as it is here to the point of ANY average Pinoy or person living in the Philippines can become a prophet and predict accurately there will be a tragedy next month, next week, tomorrow. 
    These tragedies warrant a more insightful diagnosis and deep reflection from us to figure out the “intangibles” that have brought them about (one could be the cultural trinity Benign0 posits). Not to say IIRC report should be regretted or we let those chargeable to get away, but  this report just like EDSA revolutions validates the popular idea that WE, the Filipino Society, are not accountable to tragedies and acts of moronisms but just a few people which we presume to disassociate ourselves with.
    Right now, we can see lots of Filipinos that are too focused on symptoms but not on the disease (or shall I say we’ve always been). That is what makes people too fixated on Noynoy, GMA, Erap, the politicians etc etc  all the SAME. They’re all after personalities/individuals, which are just mere symptoms or bad products of our rotten society & culture. Lets remind ourselves it’s the same thinking that has kept us in this vicious cycle: same approach, same results.  🙂

  9. RainSantiago says:

    Just goes to show how convoluted and screwed up our society is.

  10. mga ulol says:

    flips are gung gongs… nothing of importance that can/will contribute to humanity will come out of flipland… pekeng ogbyerno, pekeng relihiyon, pekeng diplomas, and fcuktory defective species… :mrgreen:

    • No Idea says:

      lmao!!!! Let’s ALL ask that we be expatriated so we can say with MORE pride “WE ARE STATELESS!!!” ( that was a joke, I hope no one kills me for it)

      • mga ulol says:

        @no id: flips are the world’s nomads… flips exist in every nooks and crannies of the earth >>> from afghanistan to zimbabwe… doktora santa ate glo phd, during her term, prostituted flips around the world for work, instead of inviting FDI in flipland… flipland kolejes y universidades produced nursed doctors and doctored nurses for human trafficking/slave trade aka ofw… :mrgreen:

  11. Hyden Toro says:

    This is a report that not only is biased but also ridiculous. These negligent people committed the negligent acts. It resulted to the death of Hostages, on the hands of a Crazy Policeman. The negligent people; with the order of the most responsible for such irresponsible decision; ordered a phony investigation and report of the incident. Surely; they will find Fall Guys. They will absolve themselves. They will make a diversions. They will blame others; instead of accepting the blame on themselves. It is just a waste of paper and time. Rational people will not believe that the coward President Noynoy Aquino is not responsible. Besides; where was he during those ten hours crisis period? The inability to return the call to Governor Tsang is not even in the report. Many unaswered questions. I just wonder, if these people can sleep well every night. 😯

    • frustratedcitizen says:


      they can actually sleep well at night i presume, what you need to wonder about is — ‘how’?

      Filipino culture already has the answer to the question. ‘Pakapalan ng mukha’

  12. Jag says:

    For state institutions to work the men who are tasked with the responsibility are accountable. The story is not over yet. The chief executive will have to make the final decision on the sanctions to be imposed. If the general public perceive the it to be biased in favor of the biggies then this government will not be able to govern effectively going forward.

    Crisis can be a time for opportunity. The probability of Aquino wasting this opportunity is high.

    His “anak ng hacendero” culture will most likely prevail.

    • Jay says:

      Crisis is not just a time for opportunity and I’ve said it before, its the litmus test for positions in leadership to show their abilities.

      • Hyden Toro says:

        This is the reason we have a tremendous:Failure of Leadership, here. The Leader responsible refused to take his Responsibility at the time of the crisis. For lack of better term: he was Petrified during the crisis incident, that he cannot function. He may had Wet his Pants also for fear of being shoot. 😆

  13. benign0 says:

    Philippines: August 23, 2010 – Architecture of a Massacre

    This pretty much illustrates the fatal coming together of elements in August 23 of this year:

    Full article here.

    • Ronald Montemayor says:


      Forgive me if this is a bit OT, but how do you compare the IIRC’s report with the two reports released by the Agrava fact-finding Commission back in 1984?

      Do you think political pressure was exerted on our Justice Secretary? I’m just curious since history may judge P-Noy based on this report the same way Marcos was judged based on the Agrava Commission’s report.

  14. kid dynamo says:

    Considering some of HK officials reactions that the IIRC report is lacking some aspects and actually asked a PNoy arch villain, the Ombudsman, to do some checking, it shows that the typical PWEDE NA YAN ways we deal with things do not conform with HK standards….

    just a thought….

    • Jay says:

      And of course many are asking for some form of equality, they are forcing that Pwede na yan policy even on outsiders, who otherwise believe that kind of attitude is simply an excuse for half-assed effort.

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  16. miriam quiamco says:

    Invite FDIs with hostile political environment for charter change, GMA did her best under the worst circumstances, that she was the first president to have brought sustained economic growth to the country no matter she did it is commendable!!!!  And a woman-president at that, I am sharing the pride of her gender.

  17. bossnipnoy says:

    The Rizal Park bloodbath that lasted for over 11 hours while dismayed television audience watch one Police officer make one stupid adventurism to the next managed to prolong its awful saga with Pres. Noynoy Aquino exonerating his favorites. The part where this administration made “invisible” alterations on the Incident Investigation and Review Committee (IIRC) report is one way or another a debilitating blow on P-Noy’s administration. The effect of such was felt all across the country as an incautious act of disrepute on DOJ Sec. Leila De Lima’s perspective over the case. Though this was expected as the President brushed cold shoulders over the issue of incriminating his old pals over the issue even before he left to the US, it still pose a “shock” to a few who hoped otherwise. This Palace Review Committee’s differing suggestions over who should shoulder the investigation’s development stirred the qualms over “favoritism” inside this “tot” administration.

    Mistakes are clearly not straightened-out by creating another one, especially when it is for the cause of a few who simply wanted to manipulate power on their behalf. DILG Usec. Rico Puno is by far enjoying the President’s overly-bended privileges. Unlike what this government guaranteed in terms of transparency and fair jurisprudence, the case of eight (8) Hong Kong nationals killed by a rogue PNP official is going nowhere but “rock bottom”. If the live tv streams are not that humiliating enough, Malacañang is extending the political agony by covering-up some of its “no-expense-spared” officials. Thus, this somehow gives the public a reason to mutter their uncertainties- enough to push P-Noy on re-evaluating his former actions. But this seemed too uncertain. The part where Aquino and De Lima are trying to jerk-off the part their political indifference on the case is by itself revolting; a picture of TRAPOs merely trying to get along.

    Like what Sen. Ponce Enrile said, De Lima could either quit or “shut up” over the Palace’s decision on Puno and Versoza. And with the two brushing their elbows over the issue as if there was no grudge held, the public cannot help but think of nothing but “pure” gimmick. It doesn’t need a genius to help figure out what these two are up to for the sake of protecting this administration. This kind of political adventurism had long been practiced, so why should P-Noy restrain himself from doing such? The answer of course is delicadeza. This was promised no less by the President himself when he campaigned for the last presidential election and is what keeping his family in the political arena. Thus, it is such a shame that P-Noy had forgotten self-restraint for the sake of his career’s ascendancy.

    If the people were to be asked, these two are better without the other. De Lima should have stirred-away from politicking and that she should have remained true to her nature of not being easily bought. As her IIRC report got trashed with its recommendations selectively executed, De Lima should have taken the plunge and held this administration accountable for it. It was not fair for the members of the IIRC to have their reports reviewed by a two-man council comprised nonetheless by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa and Chief Presidential Council Eduardo de Mesa. More so, is it not dubious that the creation of such review team came soon as the IIRC was about to submit its final evaluation holding administration allies accountable? De Lima sniffed this treachery but she averted from doing something. Was it because she has already enjoyed the influence P-Noy had extended to her? Or was she promised of much more?

  18. IIRC says:

    President Noynoy Aquino’s most recent blunder should now be considered unforgiveable and should be viewed for what it really is: a sign of worse things to come for the country and its 92 million inhabitants. Instead of approving the recommendations given by the Incident Investigation and Review Committee (IIRC), P-Noy ironically lessened the recommended charges against his three close allies, Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, Interior and Local Government Secretary Rico Puno and PNP Director General Jesus Versoza, and agreed to filing suit against the other police officers named in the report without even batting an eyelash. Such an episode which transpired on September 17 between a meeting with IIRC members and P-Noy only showcased how the new president endearingly protects his mother’s former ally, his shooting buddy and even the ally of that shooting buddy.
    This is the now second time that P-Noy was able to prove that under his watch, friends do come first before the welfare of the country and his countrymen. However, what is highly irksome and nauseating to this unfolding situation is the fact that P-Noy merely gave us all a runaround when he promised that “heads will roll” and that someone will be held accountable but intentionally failed to reveal that his idea of those to be held accountable will not include the names of Lim, Puno and Versoza.
    Another classic example of P-Noy’s expertly maneuvered runaround happened immediately after the hostage incident when he refused to fire Secretary Puno by claiming that the interior secretary is entitled to due process. And, that was what the IIRC was convened to do and exactly did. However, the IIRC’s final recommendation did not sit well with the new president as he was even heard blurting out ““Napatapang ‘ata masyado ah. Bakit kasama pa sila Puno, Lim, at Verzosa?”. Then in an effort to provide an escape for his “friends”, P-Noy dangled this political line: Palace lawyers will first review the IIRC report. After an excruciatingly long review, lo and behold, the IIRC recommendations were revised and the top three officials were effectively absolved of their crimes in the hostage incident. Mayor Lim was now only given administrative charges for misconduct and neglect, Secretary Puno was simply admonished in a private meeting by P-Noy – an episode that can never be proven, and General Versoza was absolved altogether of any culpability. There goes the doctrinal hierarchy of “command responsibility”.
    One cannot help but wonder how P-Noy and his legal advisers came up with such recommendation to the IIRC recommendation. Even members of the IIRC were perplexed with the outcome of such a review. P-Noy should know better that even if we buy his political line of not seeing any laws violated by the trio, he should have done something more than mere admonishing given that he explicitly promised that he would be fair and vowed justice for all. So where is the justice for the killed tourists? Clearly, the term “whitewash” will now be on everyone’s mind.

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