10 gadgets that could’ve helped the PNP SWAT during the Manila bus hostage

The country is still in shock over what happened on the night of August 23, 2010. The whole nation is humbled, nay, humiliated because of the hostage drama. The least we could do is to apologize to Hong Kong and to the entire world for our police force’s shortcomings.

Seeing as how the Aquino administration is open to criticism and suggestions, we took it upon ourselves to look for gadgets that could help the PNP SWAT team, as well as other law-enforcement groups, to prevent a repeat of the tragedy. And since we’re talking about a government with nearly depleted funds (thanks a lot, PGMA), we thought it wise to include the unofficial SRPs. They may be expensive, but it’s a fair price to pay for saving lives and reputations.

1 of 10 Gas masks
Gas masks (US$190/each, about P9,500). One of the first things everyone noticed was that none of the police officers were wearing masks. A big no-no especially when you’re entering a confined space filled with tear gas.

2 of 10 Flash/Flashbang grenades
Flash/flashbang grenades (US$68/pc, about P3,400). Pricey for something that’s good for one-time use. If you have a team that could breach the hostage area in less than 5 seconds, however, all you need is one.

3 of 10 Frame charge
Frame charge (US$100/each about P5,000). Instead of fumbling about with a sledgehammer, a frame charge can disintegrate tempered/laminated glass in less than a second. The instantaneous mini-explosion will give the hostage-taker little or no time to react.

4 of 10Intimidating SWAT uniforms
Intimidating SWAT uniforms (US$34.95/set, about P1,750). Once you’re able to enter the premises, you have to be able to strike fear into your opponent’s mind (think Batman Begins). Regular PNP uniforms just aren’t intimidating enough even with the bulletproof vest.

5 of 10 Thermal Imaging Infrared Camera
Thermal imaging infrared camera (US$5000/each, about P250,000). The PNP SWAT are no supermen, that much is clear. They can’t see through walls or even curtains, so they’re basically left guessing where they need to shoot. Had they arrived with this gadget in hand, they might have been able to snipe Mendoza, or at least disable him, without having to break into the bus.

6 of 10 A.R. Drone Quadricopter
A.R. Drone Quadricopter (US$500/each, about P25,000). Believe it or not, this is a toy, but its built-in camera and remote flying capabilities (via the iPhone or the iPad) could have given the police a better view of the situation.

7 of 10 Ladder / Platform
Ladder/platform (from P2,500/each). Tour buses are tall. Filipinos are short. Do the math.

8 of 10 M4 carbine rifles
M4 carbine rifles (US$1,270, about P63,500). M16s are designed for full-on military assault. It’s great for when you are in wide open spaces, but when you’re trying to enter a bus full of people, you’ll need a shorter weapon. The M4 carbine rifle is roughly 5 inches shorter than an M16, thus making it easier to carry and more maneuverable.

9 of 10 Armored Personnel Carrer (APC)
Armored Personnel Carrer (APC) (US$3 million, about P150 million). The way the trigger-happy PNP SWAT acted that night, you’d think they have acute hoplophobia. If that’s the case, then maybe they could have borrowed an APC from the military (or an armored car from a nearby bank) just to get close to the action. It’s a little more hands-off, yes, but it’s better than tucking your balls behind your legs on live TV.

10 of 10 High-powered lamps
High-powered lamps (US$496/set, about P24,800). Visibility was poor that night, and nobody, not even the media’s cameras, can see inside the bus. Was it so hard to position lamps from behind the bus? Heck, there was a construction area near the Quirino Grandstand. Couldn’t the police have borrowed sun lamps?

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