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Quirino Grandstand Ethical Analysis

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I. Introduction

The Issue:

Lost in the aftermath of the investigation into what is now known as “Rizal Park hostage-taking incident” was the negative role of the Media played that added fuel to the shooting incident. Most of the major TV companies represented by their top news reporters, by communicating directly to the hostage-taker and by broadcasting the arrest of his brother, even though they know that a TV set was being used inside the bus, compromised and tied the hands of the negotiators to have the upper hand in the negotiation. The sight of his brother being arrested pushed the hostage-taker to start shooting the innocent victims.

Although most of these Broadcast companies were found to be in violation of Section 4, Article 6 of the KBP Broadcast Code, which states “The coverage of crimes or crisis situations shall not provide vital information or offer comfort or support to the perpetrators”, with a fine of no more than P30,000.00, not one of them accepted direct responsibility and explicitly apologized for the said fiasco.

KBP cannot even sanction one major TV Company since it was not a member. The only positive output that came from this incident was the revision of Article 6 of the Broadcast code that added 9 more sections from the current 6 sections, that addresses the rules that are “vague and incomplete” like delaying the airing of the live footage, Media should assume the hostage-taker have access to all types of broadcast, the right to life takes precedence over the right to information, etc…

The Manila hostage crisis, officially known as the The Luneta Hostage-Taking Fiasco, occurred when a dismissed Philippine National Police officer took over a tourist bus in Rizal Park, Manila, Philippines on August 23, 2010. A disgruntled former Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza of the Manila Police District (MPD), hijacked a tourist bus carrying 25 people (20 tourists and a tour guide from Hong Kong, and four Filipinos) in an attempt to get his job back. He said that he had been summarily and unfairly dismissed, and that all he wanted was a fair hearing and the opportunity to defend him.

Negotiations broke down dramatically about ten hours into the stand-off, when the police arrested Mendoza’s brother and thus incited him to open fire. As the shooting began, the bus driver managed to escape, and was shown on television saying “Everyone is dead” before being whisked away by policemen. Mendoza and eight of the hostages were eventually killed and a number of others injured. The MPD’s failed rescue attempt and gun-battle with the hijacker, which took around 90 minutes, were watched by millions on live television and the internet.

The Philippine and Hong Kong governments conducted separate investigations into the incident. Both inquiries judged that the victims had been unlawfully killed, and identified the Philippine officials’ poor handling of the incident as the cause of the eight hostages’ deaths. The assault mounted by the MPD, and the resulting shoot-out, have been widely criticized by pundits as “bungled” and “incompetent”, thus making the Hong Kong Government to issue a “black” travel alert for the Philippines as a result of the affair.

About the Perpetrator

Philippine National Police identified the perpetrator or the hostage taker as Rolando Mendoza, a former commissioned police officer. He demanded to be reinstated with benefits to his previous post at the Manila Police District from which he had been dismissed in 2009 amidst allegations of extortion.

The Assault

Rolando Mendoza witnessed the arrest of his brother through the television from the bus and this made him troubled and frantic. Reports indicate that he fired warning shots as he saw his brother and son being carried away by the police. Using the radio as the main source of communication from Mendoza to the police, he demanded the release of his brother or else he would be executing the hostages one by one. He later then revealed through the radio that he already shot two hostages.

Compensation Issue

In August 2011, two survivors of the crisis, Joe Chan Kwok-chu and Yik Siu-ling, along with Tse Che-kin, brother of Masa Tse, were scheduled to meet Philippine government officials for compensation. They requested help from Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Donald Tsang, but Tsang’s office said they would not intervene because the case is a civil case. Democratic Party lawmaker James To have also tried to help Chan and Yik apply for legal aid and request more help from the chief executive. According to a Philippine human rights lawyer, legal claims in the Philippines are expensive and complicated.

II. Business Aspects

Broadcasting is the distribution of audio and video content to a dispersed audience via any audio or visual mass communications medium, but usually one using electromagnetic radiation (radio waves). The receiving parties may include the general public or a relatively large subset thereof. Broadcasting has been used for purposes of private recreation, non-commercial exchange of messages, experimentation, self-training, and emergency communication such as amateur (ham) radio and amateur television (ATV) in addition to commercial purposes like popular radio or TV stations with advertisements.

Business Industry

* Tourism Industry * The local tourism industry is still reeling after the Luneta hostage crisis that scared away Hong Kong tourists from visiting the country’s different destinations. Travel agencies estimated the number of Hong Kong tourists to the Philippines dropped 50 percent compared with the peak season before the tragedy. * The tourism industry posted $12 million in foregone revenue as Hong Kong travelers continued to shy away from the Philippines since August 2010. * Despite efforts of the government and the private sector to negate the impact of the Luneta Hostage incident, the downtrend in the number of Hong Kong visitors has remained irreversible.

* In September 2010 or a month after the hostage taking incident, the arrivals from Hong Kong posted a 17 percent reduction. The figure further went down by 30.7 percent in October and then dropped by another 19.5 percent the following month. The market briefly recovered from December to January but went down sharply again by 29.8 percent in February. * As a result of the continuing decline in arrivals from Hong Kong, the local tourism industry also posted some $12.04 million in possible earnings.

Prospects of the Business Industry

The Philippines has a vibrant media sector. Ownership has been predominantly private and freedom of the press is guaranteed by the Constitution. The first television broadcast was in 1953. There are free-to-air nationwide television networks. Cable TV was launched as long ago as 1969, but it is only now starting to really grow, substantially boosted by the prospect of bundling broadcasting with Internet, telephony and other services. While DTH (Direct-to-Home) satellite TV has been available in the Philippines since 1999, its large scale adoption awaits the entry of a major player – possibly PLDT – into the market.

This statement provides a broad overview of the Philippines television broadcasting market. It is estimated that almost nine out of each ten Philippine households has access to a TV set. The Department of Tourism (DOT) has been negotiating with the Hong Kong government and quietly meeting with Hong Kong travel agents in an effort to lure back Hong Kong visitors. The DOT is now preparing for the holding of security training and familiarization tours for Hong Kong travel escorts and media as agreed upon with the Hong Kong government. The idea here is to provide the participants, mainly travelers and media, to see the actual situation in the Philippines and that it is safe, enjoyable and absolutely no reason why foreign visitors should not visit here.

Major Players

* ABS – CBN Corporation
* Website: www.abs-cbn.com
* Owners: Don Eugenio Lopez, Sr., Fernando Lopez
* Market Coverage: 42%
* GMA Network Inc.
* Website: www.gmanetwork.com
* Owners: Gilberto Duavit, Menardo Jimenez, and Felipe Gozon
* Market Coverage: 35%
* Kapatid TV5
* Website: www.tv5.com.ph
* Owner: Manuel V. Pangilinan
* Market Coverage: 18%

III. Ethical Analysis

In using utilitarianism, the group listed the societal benefits and costs as seen in the table below:


* Well-aware citizens * Clear outlines of the media actions during such incident| * Less tourism * More risks for the hostages * Endangering the lives of the citizens * Media as a tool for would-be hostage-takers * Muddled the resolution crisis * Image/reputation of our country * Discrimination * Loss of jobs * Trust Issue with the police * Readiness and capability of the Local officials to handle emergency situations|

One of the benefits for the society with regards to this issue is that we, the citizens will be well-informed of the happenings in the place where the hostage-taking took place, especially among the involved family of the Hong Kong tourists. Another benefit for the society is since this incident, many of the media outlets tend to accept and follow the revised KBP code Section 6 that puts additional rules that will address the proper conduct of reporting such incidents. However, the costs that resulted from the behaviour of the media gave a hard blow towards our tourism industry. Many tourists are now half-scared in visiting our country and even many traveling agencies have put up a travel warning against our country. China even banned their citizens to travel to our country for almost one year. Some countries are now doubting their safety in our country.

The coverage that was brought upon by the media brought the Philippines in a bad light with regards to its image and reputation as a safe and fun destination. With regards to the risk of the hostages being increased when the media oversteps its duty of live reporting, it will definitely multiply once the hostage-taker accessed the report from any broadcast medium. It was very clear from the early footages that after the initial reports from the media, scores of ordinary citizens went to the area to watch the incident. Since there was no effective barricade in place to cordon off the ordinary citizens from moving in and out of the area, this resulted in one of the bystander being hit by a stray bullet.

In the middle of the time of negotiation by the police with the hostage-taker, some of the media people interfered directly and indirectly thus muddling the situation further. At one time, the hostage-taker even decided to talk only to one media practitioner instead of the police negotiator. With this incident in mind, some of the would-be hostage-takers might get some ideas on how to deal with certain situations in case their backs are on the wall. They can use the media when push comes to shove. Due to some erroneous reports coming out from some media outlets, the Chinese government felt that we didn’t exert enough efforts to save all of their citizens.

It enhanced further animosity between the two countries resulting into the Chinese government issuing a travel ban against our country. This ban resulted with loss of job for many of our countrymen in the tourism industry. Some even became hostile towards our OFW’s in Hong Kong and China. With the way the police and the local officials handled this incident erroneously which was further aggravated by the live reporting and meddling of the media, people now tend to feel more suspicious with them. Therefore in utilitarianism, “The Luneta Hostage-Taking Fiasco” is morally unacceptable since the societal costs outweigh the societal benefits.


During the incident, many rights were violated by the media. One is the right to live by the victims and the perpetrator. The rights of the victims were grossly violated once the media reported the full action being done by the police through all mediums, most especially knowing that the hostage-taker have access to a TV set inside the bus. As for the right of the hostage-taker, some media personalities hindered the negotiation by talking directly to him, paralyzing and giving little options with the police negotiators.

Hence, aggravating the situation and putting the life of the hostage-taker more at risk. On the other hand, media has certain restrictions and rules to be followed in times of crisis and these were violated during the Luneta Hostage-Taking incident. Press freedom was definitely abused and this is the reason why it should not be absolute. Although the media’s initial intent of providing updated information during the incident was the prime concern, the urge of reporting the details first over the other media outlets became apparent. They should have always prioritized human life over press freedom.


Based on Emmanuel Kant for an action or policy to be considered morally acceptable it must pass both these (2) categorical imperatives. Categorical 1  What the media does is not acceptable to others because through media, many people died or were killed because of the reckless usage of it. Therefore, it is not acceptable because it didn’t pass the Act in such a way that your action can be considered as a UNIVERSAL LAW.

Categorical 2

Media focused on their responsibility rather than being more concerned for the safety of other lives. Therefore, the media treated the hostages as a mean to have their headline report. It didn’t pass the categorical imperative 2 that states “Do not treat a person as a MEANS but always as an END”. The issue regarding media didn’t pass the 2 categorical objectives therefore it is not morally acceptable.


Those who have committed a mistake should be punished accordingly. It was evident in the case that news stations on television such as ABS-CBN Broadcasting Channel 2, Associated Broadcasting Company Channel 5(now known as TV5), and on radio, Radio Mindanao Network, were mandated by the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) to pay P30, 000 each. This payment is ordered because of their violations of the KBP Broadcast code. These violations were made when news reporters of the said networks performed actions that compromised the situation of the hostage taking. Moreover, news anchors of RMN, Michael Rogas and Erwin Tulfo were also asked to pay fines of P15, 000 and P10, 000 respectively, after evidence proved that these anchors got in the way of negotiations between the police and ex-police officer Rolando Mendoza, the hostage-taker.

The penalties do not seem to be commensurate to the wrongdoing. Among its options, the KBP chose not to suspend Rogas and Tulfo for the major ethical offense of interviewing Mendoza during the most crucial stages of the crisis. However, according to the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, the punishments received by the violating parties do not commensurate the actions done during the event. Since justice and fairness also deals with the fact that those people who have suffered shall receive compensation, the case in this matter does not provide evidence that compensation has taken place.

As victims, the hostages and their families should have received any form of compensation or help or even an apology after suffering from the incident that was compromised by the actions of the media men, who in this case were the group of people who disobeyed the rules. The press, particularly the broadcast media, was also to blame for the outcome of the Aug.23 hostage-taking event. Some of their actions during their coverage lacked ethical and professional consideration that made the situation even worse.

Networks ABS-CBN Broadcasting Operation, Associated Broadcasting Company, and Radio Mindanao Network violated Section 4, Article 6, Part I of the Broadcast Code and paid the appropriate fine. However, GMA-7 violated the same codes but as non-member of the KBP, they were not investigated and there were not ordered to pay fines nor receive any sanctions in that their actions impose during that incident and even in others. Taking consideration the ethical approach being discussed in this scenario, it can be said that there is no fairness among all networks involved. Those who are not under the KBP but have committed the same wrong were not punished when they should have been.


The actions of Media regarding the Manila Hostage-taking incident have become evident as it affected the movements of the hostage-taker, ex-policeman Rolando Mendoza. Every move made by the media was questioned because it serves as Mendoza’s basis of action; this has become an issue because every detail outside the hostage-taking was monitored by the media and directly reported live. Was the action of the Media considered to be an act of being concern with the people particularly Rolando Mendoza, his family, his hostages and the people or just to have footages that can benefit their business? The primary concern of ABS-CBN, GMA7 and ABC-5 have been to fully report to the people all the data and every bit of information coming out of the incident that affects the society.

The main objective of every station is to inform the people about its government, its society and their one goal is to serve the people. The decision of the media in airing the hostage-taking as it happens live is a very risky position but they’ve done it because they care about the people. They took the responsibility to inform the hostage-taker about what is happening within his family, the people on what’s happening to their society and the government, even if most of them were accused of misconduct after the incident. This has made the media’s action on broadcasting the hostage-taking incident morally acceptable to the society, for they have express the care for the people and its society.


The role of media to the hostage taking in Manila two years ago has raised various questions regarding its role and obligations in the society. Does the media properly imposed its rights to inform people about the tragedy or has it gone too far in informing people on the issue? Kapisanan ng mga Brodkasterng Pilipinas (KBP), the national association of owners and operators of radio and television stations in the country, has fined ABS CBN and ABC-5 for excessively using their powers in providing information that affected the Rolando Mendoza’s decisions and actions on the tragedy.

ABS CBN, ABC-5 and GMA 7 did not practice its temperance in providing information to the people that it has made the situation worst. There are several reports and footages that were observed by the KBP, where different stations reported too much information that was accessed by the hostage-taker which caused him to burst out of his mind causing a lot of deaths at the time of the hostage-taking.

Broadcasters such as Julius Babao (ABS CBN), Erwin Tulfo (ABC-5) and Ron Gagalac (ABS CBN) were observed to be reporting information that caused the hostage-taker to panic. These actions have made the media unreliable in protecting the people. On this hostage taking-incident, the media did not practice the prudence or the carefulness expected of it in giving truthful information in exercising their rights to freedom of information. It has made the media’s act in the hostage-taking incident to be unacceptable.

Pending Laws

Principal Author: ACOP, ROMEO MACUSI
Status: Pending with the Committee on PUBLIC INFORMATION since 2010-08-18

House Bill 02398 states, “An act strethening the independece of media in the Philippines by establishing the journalists welfare fund and for other purposes” this bill is established to protect and ensure the welfare of journalists by providing them monetary benefits for work-connected injury, disability or death. It may affect the media industry because not everyone can benefit from this if indeed this has been made as a law. There is a good amount of journalists in the country and it will become unfair if some will benefit from this while others who are not that well-known won’t be getting any benefits from this.

Existing laws

Philippine press is protected by Constitutional provision Article III- Bill of rights under section 4. It states, “No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government of redress of grievances. This guarantees the media press and journalist the freedom to speak and share information to public. Apparently, this law supports Article III Section 7 which is the right of the people to information on matters of public concern, access to official records as well as government research data used. Data Privacy Act of 2012, which is recently signed by the president, may also affect the media business. As opposed to the previous laws that are concern on freedom of speech and expression, this law inhibits the person to disclose personal information.

Personal information is defined as any information whether recorded in material form or not, from which the identity of an individual is apparent or can be reasonably and directly ascertained by the entity holding the information. The Philippines also has a Shield Law for protecting the welfare of the journalists. The Shield Law is embodied in Republic Act No. 1477. This is designed to shield journalists from revealing the sources of information they gathered or obtained in confidence. This serves as an effort to strengthen press freedom. Art. 6, Sec. 4 of the KBP broadcast code.

“The coverage of crimes or crisis situations shall not provide vital information or offer comfort or support to the perpetrators” This inhibits the media to broadcast any actions made by the government and any agencies that may affect or contribute to the situation of a crime or crisis.

Art. 6, Sec.1 of the KBP broadcast code

“The coverage of crimes in progress or crisis situations, such as hostage-taking or kidnapping, shall not put lives in greater danger than is already inherent in the situation. Such coverage should be restrained and care should be taken so as not to hinder or obstruct efforts of authorities to resolve the situation” This restraints the media in taking over the decision of the authorities and broadcasting its decision to the public without the consent of the authority itself.

Art. 6, Sec.3 of the broadcast code

“The identity of victims of crimes or crisis situation in progress shall not be announced until the situation has been resolved or their names have been released by the authorities. The names of fatalities should be aired only when their next of kin have been notified or their names released by the authorities.” The media must not broadcast any information regarding the identity of any victims unless the government permits them to do so.

Regulatory authorities/agencies

Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) is an institution which aims to promote responsible journalism, encourage journalistic excellence, as well as address critical problems faced by the media. The formation of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) addresses one of the critical concerns confronting the Philippines after People Power toppled the Marcos dictatorship in February 1986. That concern calls attention to the power of the media and the role of the free press in the development of Philippine democracy.

KBP, Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (Association of Broadcasters of the Philippines), the foremost broadcast media organization in the country, composed of owners and operators of radio and television stations (Regular Members) and the radio and television stations themselves (Associate Members). The KBP was organized to elevate professional and ethical standards in Philippine broadcasting, promote social responsibility in broadcasting, work for the advancement of the broadcast industry and protect the rights and interests of broadcasters, seminars and conferences.

* RMN (Radyo Mo Nationwide)
* TV5
* Possible problems that may arise due to the online nature od the business and industry. Plagiarism, especially to journalists, may arise as it seems that everything may be seen online. Thus, intellectual stealing may become an issue. Also, misleading information may easily be spread by internet means.

V. Conclusion

There are many lessons to be learned for everyone involved from this incident especially for the Media/Broadcasting companies, the Police and local government official in-charge of the Crisis Committee during the incident, the current government and the ordinary people. For the Media practitioners, the right of Press Freedom is not absolute. The right to live should take precedence over the right of Press Freedom.

They should learn how to balance the practice of giving the correct information at the correct time and take into consideration the rights of the people involved in the incident. Although the KBP (Kapisanan ng mga Broadkaster ng Pilipinas, a regulatory body of national association of owners and operators of radio and tv stations in the country) levied fines to some outlets, it was their act of updating Section 6 of the code that was widely applauded by the public, wherein they added clear rules and actions to be taken by media people during emergency situations like hostage-taking.

http://www.marketingcharts.com/television/broadcaster-revenue-totaled-284b-in-07-to-reach-326b-in-2010-3468/ http://dr.ntu.edu.sg/bitstream/handle/10220/254/AMIC_1971_09_13.pdf?sequence=1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Media_companies_of_the_Philippines http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Research+and+Markets%3A+This+Essential+Report+on+Broadcasting+in+the…-a0211935214 pcij.org/wp-content/…/KBP-Decision-Hostage-Crisis-Coverage.pdf?… http://www.cmfr-phil.org/worldpressfreedomday/

http://www.slideshare.net/chariecamilo/philippine-constitution-1987-article3 http://business.inquirer.net/79534/data-privacy-act-of-2012
http://jaydejaresco.blogspot.com/2006/01/philippine-shield-law.html http://www.cmfr-phil.org/about/
http://www.eyeonethics.org/2011/06/14/does-self-regulation-have-a-future-in-the-philippines/ http://asiancorrespondent.com/57405/philippine-networks-sanctioned-over-2010-hostage-crisis-coverage/ http://www.congress.gov.ph/download/basic_15/HB02398.pdf

http://www.slideshare.net/chariecamilo/philippine-constitution-1987-article3 http://business.inquirer.net/79534/data-privacy-act-of-2012
http://jaydejaresco.blogspot.com/2006/01/philippine-shield-law.html http://www.cmfr-phil.org/about/

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