Wed, Sep 22, 2010 - Page 5 News List

Hong Kongers blast hostage report

AP , HONG KONG

Hong Kong residents yesterday criticized as incomplete a scathing report from the Philippine government detailing the mishandling of a bus hijacking in which eight tourists from the Chinese territory died.

The report — which said leaders communicated with poorly with the hostage-taker, a fired policeman, and called police inadequately trained — came as Philippine President Benigno Aquino III tried to repair ties with China, where the attack sparked outrage.

The report, released on Monday, singled out Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim and Manila Police Chief Rodolfo Magtibay, who left for a nearby restaurant shortly before gunman Rolando Mendoza started shooting at hostages.

It accused Magtibay of “gross insubordination” for defying presidential orders to use an elite commando unit instead of a local SWAT team that struggled to storm the bus after shots were heard.

Lim’s approach of trying to wait out the situation was “made with utter disregard of any experience and training in hostage-taking incidents,” the report said.

There was no immediate comment from Beijing on the 83-page report, though the Hong Kong government praised the investigation committee for criticizing and recommending action against Philippine officials.

Many in the territory, however, said the investigation left too much unanswered.

Hong Kong Legislator Ronny Tong (湯家驊) said the report’s biggest flaw was its inability to rule out that friendly fire had killed some of the tourists. The report said while available evidence supports the conclusion that Mendoza killed all eight Hong Kong citizens, this needed to be confirmed by ballistic testing. Philippine officials have previously said police bullets may have hit some of the victims.

Tong said that while the findings of official wrongdoing help pave the way for victims to seek financial damages, “the report has not achieved the goal of uncovering the truth.”

Survivor Li Yick-biu, who was among an early batch of hostages released by Mendoza, complained the report didn’t explain how another badly wounded hostage was hurt, the South China Morning Post reported yesterday.

Youngster Jason Leung remains in a coma from a serious head injury. The Leung family have become an emotional focal point in the aftermath of the tragedy. Mother Amy Ng is the only member who escaped unscathed. Her husband and two other children were killed.

“The tragedy reflects the serious corruption in the Philippines, in government and police,” Li was quoted as saying.

Hong Kong’s Apple Daily said in a front-page headline the report “has not done justice to the victims.”

A Hong Kong court has ordered Hong Kong police to conduct their own investigation and may call a hearing based on the findings.

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