HK officials blasted over Manila hostage deaths
HONG KONG – The families of eight Hong Kong tourists who were killed in a Philippine bus hijacking last year accused city authorities Thursday of not doing enough to help them win compensation from Manila.
Relatives rallied outside the city’s legal aid department, calling for the government to fund a lawsuit against the Philippines, almost a year after a bungled rescue attempt sparked a diplomatic meltdown.
Tse Chi-kin, brother of the coach’s tour guide, said the group was applying for legal aid because “I can’t see any action taken by the government”.
The claimants “shouldn’t have to instigate legal proceedings… The government should”, said Hong Kong legislator James To.
As the drama unfolded live on television last August, police officers stormed the bus and shot dead lone gunman Rolando Mendoza, a former policeman who took a tourist bus hostage in a desperate bid to be reinstated after losing his job over corruption allegations.
But eight tourists died in the bungled rescue, prompting outrage in Hong Kong, which issued a travel alert for the Philippines, advising citizens at the time not to visit the popular travel destination.
The slain victims’ relatives said they would travel to Manila on August 23 in a bid to talk with officials about compensation and stiffer penalties for those involved in the rescue effort.
Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III came under harsh criticism after he called for only minor charges against authorities, prompting accusations he was protecting friends and political allies.
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