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Philippines renews "sympathy and solidarity" with HK on hostage incident

(Xinhua)

09:01, August 23, 2011

MANILA, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- The Philippine government on Monday renewed its "sympathy and solidarity" with Hong Kong, particularly the families of the victims of the hostage-taking tragedy, on the eve of the first anniversary of the incident.

"On the eve of the first anniversary of the Quirino Grandstand incident, the Filipino people renew their sympathy and solidarity with the families of the victims and the people of Hong Kong," Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a statement.

Lacierda said that the Philippine government "recognize the grief that continues to burden the relatives of the victims and we remain committed to reforms and improvements that will move relations between our peoples forward."

Apparently addressing the demand for "reasonable compensation" from the government, Lacierda noted that "concerned private citizens have also established a Solidarity Fund for the families of the victims, in keeping with the deep solidarity Filipinos feel for the victims and their families."

He reiterated other actions taken by the government to avoid a repeat of the tragedy, among them, investigation into official culpability, leading to a dismissal and the filing of administrative charges against four police officials; improved capability and equipment of the Special Action Force; and the deployment of Tourism Police.

"Officials of the government will be meeting with some of the families of the victims and with a Hong Kong legislator to share updates on progress in the year since the tragedy took place," Lacierda said.

While President Aquino is not expected to participate in any commemorative activities on Tuesday, Malacanang said that Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim would represent the government at a simple prayer ceremony at the Quirino Grandstand organized by private groups on Tuesday morning, to be attended by the Hong Kong families.

Asked whether he would meet with the families after the ceremony, Lim said, "No, only at the ceremony. I have another meeting still to attend."

On Aug. 23, 2010, Philippine ex-policeman Rolando Mendoza hijacked a bus carrying 21 Hong Kong tourists and four Filipinos in Manila in a bid to be reinstated in the police force. Eight Hong Kong hostages and the hijacker were killed after an 11-hour standoff.

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