- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 24, 2010

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — China warned travelers over travel to the Philippines and demanded answers Tuesday over how eight Hong Kong tourists were killed in a hostage stand-off in Manila following a day of botched negotiations.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said his government was “appalled” and phoned his Philippine counterpart to voice concern. Hong Kong residents expressed outrage and media there denounced Philippine police as incompetent.

President Benigno Aquino III presented to China’s ambassador to the Philippines the preliminary investigation into Monday’s hostage saga in which a dismissed policeman armed with a M16 rifle and a pistol seized a busload of 21 Hong Kong tourists and four locals to demand his reinstatement on the force.

The ordeal ended in bloodshed on live TV with police storming the bus and killing the gunman, 55-year-old Rolando Mendoza, after he fired at the tourists, killing eight of them.

Vice President Jejomar Binay and Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo will fly to Beijing and Hong Kong to present the final report to Chinese authorities once it is completed, officials said.

A Buddhist monk sprinkles holy water at the bullet-riddled tourist bus during a ceremony to mourn the eight Hong Kong tourists who were killed in the hostage crisis Tuesday Aug.24, 2010 at Rizal Park in Manila, Philippines. The Chinese authorities demanded answers from the Philippines on Tuesday after a 12-hour hostage drama in the heart of Manila ended with eight Hong Kong tourists and their Filipino hostage-taker dead following a day of botched negotiations. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
A Buddhist monk sprinkles holy water at the bullet-riddled tourist bus during ... more >

Philippine police defended their actions — pointing out that officers lacking proper equipment had risked their lives in trying to bring the stand-off to an end. But they promised to review all events leading to the deaths.

“We will look at whether what we did was right,” Philippine national police spokesman Agrimero Cruz told the Associated Press.

Of the 25 people on the bus, 13 of the Hong Kong tourists and four Filipinos survived. Nine of the survivors had been freed by Mr. Mendoza hours before the gunfire began.

Seven hostages were brought to hospitals, including one in critical condition with a head wound and another whose jaw was blasted shattered. A third had a gunshot wound in the waist. The others were slightly injured, according to the Information Services Department of the Hong Kong government.

Britain’s Foreign Office said Tuesday that two of the hostages who were released were British nationals.

Mr. Aquino, facing his first major crisis since taking office on June 30, declared Wednesday a national day of mourning in solidarity with the people of Hong Kong to “share their sorrow with them,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.

At the scene of the stand-off, relatives of two dead hostages attended a Buddhist ceremony Tuesday meant to comfort those who die violently.

The tearful relatives trailed monks who walked around bus, sprinkling water around the bullet-peppered vehicle. The relatives later offered fruits — apples, corn, oranges — and kneeled in front of a platform with burning incense.

At the presidential palace, Mr. Aquino met with Chinese Ambassador Liu Jianchao and later spoke by phone for 15 minutes with Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang, briefing him on the progress of the investigation and assuring him the Philippine government will assist the victims and their relatives, Lacierda said.

Mr. Liu, the Chinese ambassador, said various Philippine officials had apologized to him over what happened.

Story Continues →