Philippine leader`s apology `wont` absolve others

The Manila bus hostage crisis had left eight Hong Kong tourists dead.

Manila: Philippine President Benigno Aquino`s taking responsibility for a hostage crisis which left eight Hong Kong tourists dead will not absolve other officials if they are found culpable, a spokesman said on Saturday.

Aquino said on Friday he took full responsibility for the tragedy, which has chilled ties with the southern Chinese city and damaged the Philippine tourism industry.

Presidential spokesman Herminio Coloma said in an interview on government radio that Aquino`s admission was in the context of his role as the country`s highest elected official.

"He is not absolving the other officials, no. The President is simply emphasising that he is accountable to the people (who) elected him," Coloma said.

Sacked policeman Rolando Mendoza took a busload of tourists hostage on August 23 in a desperate bid to clear himself of extortion charges and get his job back.

The standoff, which played out live on global television, came to a bloody end when police made a botched attempt to storm the bus and rescue the hostages.

A high-level committee formed by Aquino is now holding an inquiry into the bloodbath which left eight hostages and the gunman dead and is expected to submit its report next week.

In the same vein, Coloma said Aquino had no plans to quit. "He will complete his six-year term as president."

Asked about the Hong Kong legislature`s demand for an apology and compensation, Coloma said: "President Aquino has apologised and this has been acknowledged by Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang."

Coloma said Aquino had also announced that his government would study the compensation issue.

Bureau Report

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