Family members and one survivor of last year's botched hostage rescue in Manila that left eight Chinese tourists dead (and the hostage taker) visited the Philippine's this past weekend to commemorate the tragic event. Unfortunately, their meetings with government officials, although "useful,"resulted in the group's being disappointed.
During the hour-long meeting at the Department of Justice in Manila, Secretary Leila de Lima heard from six Chinese nationals who wanted four concessions from the Philippine government: criminal charges against certain officials who oversaw the hostage crisis, an official apology from the president, compensation for the victims and better protection for tourists traveling to the country.
COMMENT: Following the meeting with de Lima, the justice minister acknowledged that she would convey the four points to President Benigno Aquino.
On August 23 last year, a fired senior police officer hijacked a tour bus filled with tourists from Hong Kong and demanded his old job back, a drama that played out live over international news channels. The 11-hour siege ended with eight tourists and the hostage-taker dead after a severely mishandled rescue attempt by the Philippine National Police (PNP).
De Lima’s office investigated the bus hijacking and determine that there was a lack of clear direction to officials during the siege. She also recommended criminal and or administrative charges against 10 people. Yet, no one will be severely punished. As in the United States, when there are major screw-ups following a poorly handled crisis, particularly when lives are lost, rarely are those responsible criminally tried, fired or banished from government.
Lee Ying Chuen, who was on the tour bus, and survived, had wanted for the group to meet with President Aquino. Although The president’s press secretary said that President Aquino expressed regret over the incident, but the group says that is not the same as a formal apology. Nevertheless, Hong Kong's travel warning that discourages Chinese nationals from traveling to the Philippines remains in place.