Current affairs hit an opinionated nerve again.

News about a day-long prison standoff in Manila ended in a shootout between prisoners and police, resulting to 23 dead and criticisms afire. The prison takeover started with a jailbreak attempt by some Abu Sayyaf leaders by overpowering guards and gaining control of ammos. How that happened is beyond me. My idea of prison guards is The Rock, Michael Duncan, or Shaq. But I reckon there aren't too many bouncer-type Pinoys out there. Prison guards probably took the Angelo Dela Cruz form — overworked, underpaid, haggard, malnourished, and poor; Or probably like Chief Clancy Wiggum (of the Simpsons fame) — overworked, underpaid, haggard, potbellied, corrupt, and incompetent.

In contrast, the Abu Sayyaf prisoners were driven by a motive (however evil that may be), prepared (intelligence reports say a breakout was planned as early as last year), and determined. Never mind if they are ill-fed, unfit, and undersexed (all the more reason to be driven to escape), what mattered was to carry out a mission, conviction, or any Dr. Evil-inspired plot.

Of course this may be reduced to good versus evil. Black or white. Right or wrong. The authorities being good and the prisoners as bad.

But all I can think of was the actual shootout. A batallion with assault firearms and weapons against 5 armed prisoners and 30 or less prison supporters. How many bullets did they fire before they were outshot by the police? It was probably a field day for the police to aimlessly pull triggers and get into the action. With busted lights and earsplitting gunshots and teargas afloat in the air, the situation was like a scene plucked from the 1994 Oliver Stone classic Natural Born Killers. And all that blood and gore! whoa! Carlo J. Caparas was probably not afar, busy conceptualizing a movie and his infamously long, inspiring-scornful-pity, God-calling titles. The Bicutan Shootout Tragedy: Lord, Our Father, Save Us! would be a good one.

The fact that it took 27 hours to negotiate and a bloodbath to end the crisis reflect the incompetence and inefficiency of the Philippine police. The prisoners were clearly outnumbered in men and ammo. It was pure overkill, plain and simple. Now, the unsolved criminal cases brought about by past or recent terrorist acts of the Abu Sayyaf prisoners are now good as, well, dead. 

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