Philippines to finalize 2nd report on Manila hostage incident early 2011

20:00, December 16, 2010      

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The Philippine Tourism Secretary Alberto A. Lim said here Thursday the second investigation report on the Manila hostage incident which left eight Hong Kong tourists dead will be finalized early next year.

Speaking at a press briefing held at the Consulate General of the Philippines in Hong Kong Thursday afternoon, Lim said the Philippines would have the second report finalized and announced in February 2011 the soonest.

Lim, leading a delegation to the Hong Kong on the follow-up action to the deadly crisis in August, said they were here to restore goodwill between Hong Kong and the Philippines.

On Aug. 23, a sacked Philippine police officer hijacked a bus with 21 Hong Kong tourists in Manila. The 11-hour hostage crisis ended in a bloody carnage, with eight Hong Kong tourists killed and the hostage taker shot in a bungled police rescue.

The events, which were televised live in Hong Kong, shocked the Chinese people and made thousands of tourists canceled bookings in Philippine resorts.

Lim said the Philippines is providing the victims' family and the injured persons with consolation money in the form of cash or scholarship, but did not mention the amount.

The delegation, including officials from the Department of Justice, Department of Foreign Affairs and Department of Tourism, also met Hong Kong's Chief Executive Donald Tsang and Secretary for Security Ambrose Lee on Thursday morning.h They expressed condolences from Philippine President Benigno Aquino III and sympathy of the Filipino people to the victims and their families, Lee told reporters after a meeting with the Philippine delegation.

The Philippine government has filed criminal charges against responsible officials, and Lim promised that the authority would " vigorously pursue the proceedings," said Lee.

According to Lim, four police officers involved in the incident were facing administrative charges and brother of the hijacker would be criminally charged.

To lure back frightened sightseers, the Philippine government has announced a series of measures recently to address security, with specific arrangement to beef up forces for tourists safety protection.

Lim told the Hong Kong government that the measures include implementation of institutional reforms, a special team of tourist- oriented police officers, crime-prevention techniques taught to tourist guides and drivers, a task force to prevent robberies against motorists and bus passengers, according to Lee.

"We welcome these measures which will help guard against recurrence of similar tragedies, and restore the confidence of Hong Kong people visiting the Philippines," said Lee.

During the meeting, Lim also assured Tsang of Philippines' continued cooperation in the Hong Kong government's inquiry through its Coroner's Office on the incident, said Lee.

At present, Hong Kong still has a "black" travel advisory for the Philippines in force, urging its residents against visiting the Southeastern Asian country.

"We will listen to the views of community and consider adjusting the travel alert as appropriate," Lee said.

"It is Hong Kong people's safety that we mostly care about," he added.

Earlier on Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said China expected and believed the Philippine authorities would continue to properly handle matters concerning the hostage tragedy.

Source: Xinhua

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