Philippine leader vows punishment in bus hijack

Last Updated: Thursday, August 26, 2010 - 23:36

Manila: The Philippine president vowed
on Thursday to punish authorities who bungled a bus hostage crisis
that killed eight Hong Kong tourists, toughening his stance
after Asian powerhouse China expressed outrage and political
rivals pummelled him with criticism.

The nearly 12-hour hostage drama at a historic
Manila park stunned even this violence-prone Southeast Asian
nation and delivered the first major crisis to President
Benigno Aquino III less than two months into his six-year
term.
Also today, the Philippine Senate began an inquiry
into the hostage fiasco.

"Someone failed. Someone will pay," Aquino said
during a speech before students and faculty at a suburban
university. He called the carnage "ghastly" and admitted there
were "many failures."

It was his strongest statement since a pre-dawn
news conference hours after the end of the crisis when he told
reporters, who asked if some police officials will be fired,
that "it`s unfair to prejudge them."

"My opinion might sway the (investigating) panel
and hamper their efforts of ferreting out the truth," he said
then.
In Beijing, China`s Foreign Ministry pressed Manila
to "complete the investigation of the matter as soon as
possible."

Philippine officials have acknowledged the economic
backlash on the Philippines after Hong Kong authorities urged
its citizens not to travel to the country.

About 1,40,000 Hong Kong tourists visit the
Philippines yearly.

National carrier Philippine Airlines said in a
statement that at least 558 tourists from Hong Kong and China
have cancelled their bookings.

Concerns also were raised about the fate and safety
of more than 1,00,000 Filipinos working in Hong Kong, mostly
as maids, who contributed to the USD 17.3 billion sent home in
2009 by about 9 million overseas Filipinos - remittances that
help keep the economy afloat.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, August 26, 2010 - 23:36

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