HONG KONG - The people of Hong Kong, especially the survivors and the victims' families, would find it hard to accept, and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region(SAR) government was disappointed at, the report by the Philippine government on the deadly hostage crisis in Manila on August 23, the city's government said in a statement on Tuesday.
"The Philippine government decided to lessen the recommended actions against the relevant officers named in the first report by the Incident Investigation and Review Committee. The people of Hong Kong, especially the survivors and the victims' families, will find this hard to accept. The Hong Kong SAR government is also disappointed," said a Hong Kong government spokesman.
The city's government announced its stance after reviewing the report of the Incident Investigation and Review Committee of the Philippines on the hostage-taking incident, said the statement.
Hong Kong people expect the Philippine government to handle the question of responsibility of the officials and persons involved in a fair manner, and follow through the required actions seriously, he said.
The eventual actions to be taken against the persons involved must live up to their pledge to be accountable to the public, and that is also what is owed to the dead and the injured, said the spokesman.
On August 23, Philippine ex-policeman, Rolando Mendoza, hijacked a bus carrying 21 Hong Kong tourists and four Filipinos in Manila, in a bid to be reinstated in the country's police force.
Eight Hong Kong tourists were killed and seven others were injured after an 11-hour standoff. The hostage tragedy, which had been broadcast live on TV in Hong Kong, had shocked the city's 7 million residents, with a few of them turning to psychological support.
The Hong Kong government spokesman said the Philippine government has yet to complete the investigation into the causes of death of the eight victims and causes of injury of others, and the Hong Kong government hoped the Philippines would make public their findings as soon as possible.
"As far as we understand, the Review Committee of the Philippines will in due course submit a second report on the review of the mechanism and procedures of handling similar incidents. We hope the report will come up with concrete improvement measures to avoid recurrence of such tragedies," he said.
"We will convey our views to the Philippine government through proper channels," said the spokesman.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong police is working at full steam in the investigation as required by the Hong Kong Coroner's Court to submit the final report to the Court for consideration as soon as possible.
Upon receipt of the relevant information, the Coroner will decide whether to hold a hearing, and "we are confident that the Coroner's Court will arrive at a fair and professional judgment," the spokesman added.
On September 20, days after the Philippine Incident Investigation and Review Committee submitted the first tragedy report, President Benigno Aquino III said the committee had recommended the filing of charges against senior local and police officials who are believed to be liable for the hostage fiasco.
Aquino then said the committee had recommended that charges should be filed against former Philippine National Police Chief Jesus Verzosa, Manila Police District's former Director Rodolfo Magtibay, National Capital Region Police Chief Director Leocadio Santiago, Interior Undersecretary Rico Puno, Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, chief hostage negotiator Orlando Yebra Jr., Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim and Vice Mayor Isko Moreno.
The multi-sector fact finding committee, headed by Philippine Justice Secretary Lilia de Lima, was formed shortly after the August 23 hostage crisis.
But on October 11, nearly two weeks after Aquino's legal team completed review of the recommendations in the committee's report, Aquino said he had recommended just the filing of administrative charges against four police officials for "gross incompetence and serious neglect of duty" that led to the hostage fiasco.
The four police officials were Chief Supt. Rodolfo Magtibay, former chief of Manila Police District; National Capital Region Head Director Leocadio Santiago Jr.; Supt. Orlando Yebra, negotiator in the hostage taking; and Special Weapons and Tactics Unit Head Chief Inspector Santiago Pascual III.
Aquino also recommended the initiation of administrative proceedings against Manila Mayor Alfreo Lim for misconduct in office and simple neglect and Deputy Ombudsman Emilio Gonzales III for neglect of duty.