Aquino vows punishment in bus hijack

HOSTAGED BUS. President Benigno S. Aquino III inspects the bullet ridden tourist bus (Hong Thai Travel) which was used by tourists from Hong Kong following the tragic hostage taking incident at the Quirino grandstand in Rizal Park, Manila on midhight of Tuesday (Aug.24). Eight Chinese from Hong Kong died together with the hostage taker, a bemedalled ex-policeman, triggering anger from Hong Kong, China and other countries.

Aug 27, 2010

6 police officials sacked,elite force formation eyed

MANILA (PinoyNews) – Admitting some mistakes, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III vowed that heads will roll as a result of the bungled bus hostage crisis that killed eight Hong Kong tourists and the hostage-taker, a dismissed yet bemedalled Manila police officer. Aquino made the tough stance after powerhouse China and many countries expressed anger and political rivals and people from all over the world torpedoed him with criticisms, even breaking down his website. Aquino, after declaring a day of mourning, ordered the formation of a well equipped elite force composed of policemen and military men that will strike when a similar crisis occurs.

Concerns were raised about the fate and safety of more than 140,000 Filipinos working in HongKong, mostly as maids as a result of the crisis. The hostage drama which was beamed live to the world on television triggered cancellation of many plane and hotel bookings from Hong Kong and elsewhere.

PRESIDENTIAL SISTERS Maria Elena “Ballsy” Aquino-Cruz, Aurora Corazon “Pinky’” Aquino- Abellada and Victoria Eliza “Viel” Aquino- Dee offer flowers and light candles on Friday (August 27) to the victims of the tragic hostage-taking incident at the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta Park Manila. The Aquino sisters joined some 30 members of the Yellow Ribbon Movement to pray the rosary at the site of that fateful incident. Ms. Aquino-Dee said she will continue to pray for the country and the Filipino people so they can get over this unfortunate incident.

About 150,000 tourists from Hong Kong visit Manila yearly. The nearly 12-hour hostage drama at a historic and hollowed Rizal park stunned the Philippines itself in what is considered now as the first major crisis to President Aquino in only his 55th day in office.

“Someone failed. Someone will pay,” Aquino stressed a day after the Monday carnage. He called the carnage “ghastly” and admitted there were “many failures.” Aquino himself was blamed for failure to personally handle the situation and to take the urgent phone call of Hong Kong official Donald Tsang several hours before the crisis ended with the killing of the eight HK tourists. The chief of the Manila Police District, Chief Supt. Rodolfo Magtibay, the ground commander of the hostage crisis force, immediately took a leave and a new chief was installed. Five police officials, including four SWAT members, were also relieved of their posts.

The Philippine Senate immediately held its investigation. Manila police chief Rodolfo Magtibay said in that investigation he gave the order to assault the bus. Magtibay also admitted that it was Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim who ordered the arrest of a brother of the hostage taker which many believed triggered the killing of some of the hostages.

Opposition leaders headed by Rep. Edcel Lagman called for the resignation of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jessie Robredo and heads of the president’s communications group, saying the Aquino government “failed miserably” in handling the crisis. The lawmakers said the crisis “demanded decisive and forthright presidential action, but the president was nowhere to be found.” Rep. Carlos Padilla (Nueva Vizcaya) said that the crisis for the government is now just beginning because of the fallout from Monday’s hostage incident.

“Ngayon lang nag-uumpisa crisis, which is political crisis, crisis of leadership, crisis of credibility and crisis of unpreparedness on part of the PNP and other authorities,” Padilla said. Rep. Joseph Victor Ejercito (San Juan) said, “(the) backlash would be felt starting now. [In the] next 6 months to 1 year we don’t know ‘yung implication ng pangyayaring ito.” Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez and other solons called for the resignations of 3 cabinet officials for allegedly failing to manage the crisis. They also castigated the President for the mishandling of the crisis.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), doing its heroic best for the Philippine Government in assuaging China over the Manila hostage-taking incident, expressed Filipinos’ outrage and indignation on Friday over the “senseless, criminal act” which it said ”nothing could ever justify.”

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