Time flies, but memories stay.
It has been a year since that tragic Quirino Grandstand hostage taking. I remember that day. It was a Monday. It was about noontime when news broke that a tourist bus containing Chinese nationals was held captive by a former police officer. Rolando Mendoza’s his name. It was only until the evening newscast when it occurred to me that this news was of national issue. OK. Let’s skip the details you would probably find online, shall we?
I was on Twitter when everything was happening. I was checking my timeline every now and then. I was actually feeling off about how everyone seem to know better than people on the field that time. Everybody knows something better than what the police was doing. Then everybody just started hating on the suspect. He’s the bad guy, anyways. And everybody hates the bad guy.
The outcome of that incident was tragic and pitiful. As rain covered the scene of the crime, gunshots were fired, lives were taken, cameras rolled and everything went downhill. Little did we know (or did we?) that that tragedy would scar the Philippines’ reputation. We were heavily criticized with the lack of competitiveness the people in authority showed when handling the crisis. Travel bans were issued. Non-complimentary articles were published. In-depth investigations were conducted. But everything boils down to one thing – justice and what seems to be an endless probe for it.
“We win justice quickest by rendering justice to the other party.” -Mohandas Gandhi
A year after that incident and the families of those who were killed are still seeking for justice. But when does one know when justice is served?
The Quirino Grandstand hostage taking incident started out from the disgruntled police officer Rolando Mendoza’s cry for justice. He was removed from service by the ombudsman’s ruling that he was guilty of a police-related crime. He said he wasn’t given a chance to air his side. Justice for him means getting his post back mainly because he wants his job back. He has mouths to feed and it was an injustice for him when he was fired. It was an injustice for him when his family mourned for his demise while everybody else calls him names for putting justice in his hands. Or is it?
It was an injustice for the tourists when a troubled man took them as hostages while they were having their holiday vacation in the Philippines. It was an injustice for them when Mendoza started shooting them one by one. It is an injustice when some people used their deaths to get media attention. It was an injustice when several lives were taken while some were scarred indefinitely by what took place inside that bus.
Justice, I believe, is something abstract. Something so big that it’s hard to have a full grasp of. Is it something that books tell us to be? Or is it of emotional standards?
Now that the violator’s dead, isn’t justice served? After all the investigations are over and done in due process and are found conclusive, is justice still out of the picture?
While the lack of apathy and remorse from some of the people who were involved in the failure to prevent the tragic outcome of that incident is pure injustice and sheer cowardice, how sure are we that we have done justice to the offended party?
I guess justice is more of an emotional state than a thing of the law. Admit it or not, being bereft of justice is oftentimes a matter of emotional offense. And the seeking of justice is also a journey to finding emotional settlement. That’s the reason why some things go out of hand. And for a democratic country, our justice system here is more of a struggle than a journey.
I’m hoping for everyone to get the justice they deserve more than what they want, regardless of what form they want it.
My prayers go out the spirits of the departed during last year’s hostage crisis. I hope that they find peace and hopefully they could transcend it to their families they left behind. Rest in peace.
*images from google