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Hong Kongers criticize Philippines hostage report


Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 10:26 a.m. HST, Sep 21, 2010

HONG KONG — Hong Kong residents on Tuesday criticized as incomplete a scathing report from the Philippine government detailing the mishandling of a bus hijacking in which eight tourists from the southern 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 Monday, singled out 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.

Both the Chinese and Hong Kong governments praised the 83-page report as a serious one, but there is still lingering suspicion among the Hong Kong public.

Hong Kong legislator Ronny Tong 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 told The Associated Press 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 on Tuesday.

Youngster Jason Leung remains in a coma from a serious head injury. The Leung family, Hong Kong natives who hold Canadian passports, 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."

Beijing was more conciliatory.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Hu told a news conference Tuesday that the report "shows the Philippine side is taking great care with this matter and that is something China would like to positively affirm."


Associated Press writers Christopher Bodeen in Beijing and Jim Gomez and Teresa Cerojano in Manila contributed to this report.

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