Report limits blame over Manila hostage crisis

Last Updated: Wednesday, September 22, 2010 - 23:45

Manila: Only one of eight government and police officials blamed for last month`s bungled hostage rescue in Manila that left eight Hong Kong tourists dead should face criminal charges, according to a government report seen on Wednesday by The Associated Press.
Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim should immediately face
administrative and criminal complaints for alleged blunders
that caused the daylong hostage standoff on August 23 to
degenerate into a bloody end, said a report by a fact-finding
committee. Seven other officials should not face charges
unless a future investigation substantiates them.

President Benigno Aquino III told reporters in New
York, where he is on an official visit, that he did not want
criminal complaints filed without certainty the cases were
merited. "You do not unnecessarily prosecute people, if it`s
not warranted," he said.

Interior Undersecretary Rico Puno, the highest
official blamed for the botched rescue, offered to resign
today.

Puno, who helped oversee the blunder-ridden rescue,
said he will submit his resignation letter when Aquino returns
next week.

"If I`ll be a burden to the president, I`m willing to
resign," Puno told a news conference.
The bungled rescue attempt left eight Hong Kong
tourists and the lone hostage-taker - dismissed police officer
Rolando Mendoza - dead on a bus parked at a historic Manila
park in a standoff watched by millions on live TV.

The incident damaged ties with China and Hong Kong,
which warned against travel to the Philippines, prompting
thousands of tourists to cancel bookings.

It sparked Aquino`s first major crisis, less than two
months into his presidency.

Aquino on Monday ordered a fact-finding report to be
released to China and the public, but withheld release of a
crucial section - seen today by AP - that placed much of that
blame on Lim and Manila Police Chief Rodolfo Magtibay, saying
they had failed to perform their roles in overseeing the
crisis.

Among other lapses, Lim and Magtibay left the scene
for a restaurant before the hostage-taker started shooting the
hostages.

Magtibay allegedly defied Aquino`s order to deploy an
elite police commando team but instead used a local SWAT team,
the report said.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, September 22, 2010 - 23:45

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