Philippines weighs charges over hostage standoff

President Benigno Aquino III said Manila`s mayor, a recently retired police chief and journalists were among a dozen people who could be charged over last month`s disastrous hostage standoff.

Last Updated: Sep 21, 2010, 10:31 AM IST

Manila: President Benigno Aquino III said Manila`s mayor, a recently retired police chief and journalists were among a dozen people who could be charged over last month`s disastrous hostage standoff that killed eight Hong Kong tourists and damaged ties with China.

The recommended charges, both criminal and administrative, were part of a government investigation report on the Aug. 23 hostage crisis that has been handed over to the Chinese ambassador.

Aquino said Monday he will decide whether to approve the filing of charges, including against one of his close aides, after government lawyers have studied the lengthy report and he has returned from an upcoming U.S. trip.

The president told a nationally televised news conference that his administration wanted to speedily render justice to the victims and help the survivors "get back to their lives."

"We are repairing relations with (China)," Aquino said.

The 11-hour hostage standoff and bungled rescue attempt on a bus parked at a historic Manila park — which millions watched on live TV — strained ties with China and its territory of Hong Kong. Both warned against travel to the Philippines, and thousands of tourists canceled bookings.

The crisis was Aquino`s first major test, coming less than two months into his presidency, and highlighted problems within the underfunded police force and his new Cabinet.

Scrambling to handle the fallout, Aquino created a fact-finding committee led by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, who submitted an 83-page investigation report on Friday.
The crisis was Aquino`s first major test, coming less than two months into his presidency, and highlighted problems within the underfunded police force and his new Cabinet.

Scrambling to handle the fallout, Aquino created a fact-finding committee led by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, who submitted an 83-page investigation report on Friday.
The report cited at least eight major blunders by authorities, including then Manila police chief Rodolfo Magtibay`s alleged refusal to heed the president`s order to deploy an elite police commando unit instead of a local SWAT team and his decision to leave the hostage scene with the Manila mayor for a nearby restaurant shortly before the carnage erupted.

Bureau Report