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Filipino police failed to interview freed hostages

Feb 16, 2011

Hostages released early by the gunman in last August’s Manila bus hijacking told an inquest police there never bothered to interview them about the gunman’s weapons, their seating arrangement and details of the bus in the hours leading to the deadly shoot-outs.

Instead, the police told one of them not to talk to the news media.

Li Tsui Fung-kwan, 66, her husband Li Yick-biu, 72, and nurse Tsang Yee-lai, 40, testified on the second day of the inquest into the deaths of eight Hong Kong tourists held hostage by sacked police officer Rolando Mendoza on August 23.

The court also heard that the Philippine Tourism Authority did not allow released hostages to leave the country because their passports were still on the bus.

Li Tsui Fung-kwan said she spent six hours near a police post, but none of the officers asked her about the gunman or the situation on the bus. She was the first to be released – half an hour after Mendoza hijacked the bus at 10am. Her husband, who was released three hours later, said only Red Cross staff spoke to him.

Tsang testified that police officers asked her not to speak to anyone at the scene. Tsang, her two children Fu Chak-yin, 10, and Fu Chung-yin, four, and Jason Wong Ching-yat, 12, were released before lunchtime.

She said police officers only asked her whether anyone related to her was still on the bus, and how many children remained on board. Tsang lost her husband, Fu Cheuk-yan, 39, in the siege – the latter attempted to leave with his family but Mendoza was angered and refused. Tsang told her husband to sit down before taking the children.

Joyce Chan Siu-bing, assistant manager of customer services at Hong Thai Travel, told the court that Jason Wong’s relatives watched his release on television in Hong Kong. They called the agency about sending him back from Manila.

However, Chan was told that released hostages could not leave the country because their passports were still on the bus. Quoting a conversation she had with the boss of Direction Travel and Tours – a travel agency in Manila – she said: “The tourism authority wouldn’t let them go … because this is not a standalone incident. It [was] a matter between two countries.”

Parents of dead tour guide Masa Tse Ting-chunn, 31, Lee Mei-chun and Tse Hon-ming, cried as the court heard recordings of their son’s phone call to Hong Thai at 10.18am.

Tse first spoke to branch manager Mandy Wong Man-yee. In a calm voice, he said: “I’m [your] freelance colleague Masa … We’ve a huge problem. A Filipino soldier has taken hostage of our bus … parked at Rizal Park.” He later added: “The Filipino soldier has two guns in his hands … the bus cannot go anywhere.”

Wong asked: “Why did you let him onto the bus?” Tse replied: “We didn’t let him! He rushed onto it! We’re held hostage.” Wong then transferred the call to her supervisor, Chan, who misunderstood that there were two soldiers until Tse corrected her.

Tse said twice that the gunman was emotionally unstable.

Chan asked Tse for his phone number and said they would keep in touch. Tse said: “Yup. I’ll see if I can keep my phone. Others’ phones have already been confiscated.”

Holding back tears, Chan told the court that she later tried to call him but it was unanswered. She did not try again as she was worried that it would anger Mendoza.

The survivors also testified that Mendoza made them move to various seats on the bus, and that the television on board remained turned off when they were released.

During a break, coroner Michael Chan Pik-kiu summoned Philippine vice-consul Val Simon Roque before him. Roque was asked at the pre- inquest hearing two months ago to pass summonses on to the 116 Filipino witnesses.

The coroner said: “I’m very grateful for your help, but do you know if anyone is coming? It’s now the second day of the inquest and we still don’t know if anyone is coming.”

Roque replied that the justice departments from the two jurisdictions were communicating and that he had nothing more to add. The coroner asked him to return on Monday to update the court on the matter.

But Roque expressed his surprise at the coroner’s request: “For the record, I’m appearing out of courtesy … My role is to observe and monitor the proceedings. That is my goal. “[But] we do respect the jurisdiction of your worship.” He said he would consult his authority in Manila over the coroner’s request.

Officers did not seek details of gunman or bus, inquest told

Maggie Ng

Recent surge of investments going into Clark Philippines drained Clark Freeport of prime land available for long-term leases. Investors now look for partnerships and acquisition opportunities with existing businesses located in Clark Philippines.

Three new casinos, another world-class 36-hole golf course, several new hotels and resorts of varying class of luxury have opened in Philippines Clark Freeport over the last six months. Samsung Electronics just broke ground for a US$5 billion electronics plant, coincidentally in a location adjacent to the US$2 billion plant of US chip manufacturer Texas Instruments. Hundreds of hectares of prime land in the 4200-hectare main zone of Clark Freeport have quickly been occupied. Almost the entire central business district has gone off the map of available land in this fast-growth investment destination.

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This web site contains articles and information that will be helpful to visitors, residents and tourists traveling out of town from Manila on a short getaway to Subic, Angeles City, Pampanga and Clark Philippines. There are several web sites that contain information that might also be pertinent to what is happening in North Luzon.

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While in Clark, one might as well add to the itinerary a visit to the famous Clark Wine Center, the largest wine shop in Philippines which offers over 2000 selections of fine vintage wine from all wine regions, vintages spanning over 50 years covering all price ranges.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011 Manila Bus Hostage Incident 2010




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