MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino is standing by the Incident Investigation and Review Committee (IIRC) report despite the disappointment expressed by the government of Hong Kong.
In a press briefing on Thursday, Aquino said he believes the findings were not arrived at in a whimsical manner.
He said the review will not be amended only to please the Hong Kong government.
"That, I think, is a very flimsy reason to amend the courses of action we have decided upon. This is not whimsical. We had the review of pertinent laws. We tried to find whether said laws were applicable to the people accused of failing to do their duties and various other things. This is the sum total of the collective wisdom of everybody who participated in the review. We believe this is the proper course of action, and these will be the ones that will prosper,' Aquino said.
Response to PCIJ report
In response to a Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) report claiming he was bent on clearing his allies of wrongdoing from day one, Aquino said he may have discussed the case of Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Rico Puno and DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo, and that there was a lot of discussion if they did was what the crisis manual called for.
He denied questioning the degree of culpability of Puno, Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim and then Philippine National Police chief Jesus Verzosa, saying majority of the discussions was on Yebra, if he should be castigated when he was not officially designated as the chief negotiator. "Tapang [was] the wrong word," he said.
"So tapang, I think, would be a wrong word. But I was asking, 'Papaano ba ang basis? Kakastiguhin natin itong taong ito [Yebra] na hindi naman niya obligasyon, o hindi mandato niya.' If you start from the fact that he wasn't even designated chief negotiator by the MPD [Manila Police District], assuming it's the negotiator's job to provide all of these things, why is he being tasked to answer for all of it when he was not even the negotiator? Pero beyond that, the negotiator is a sub-unit. The intelligence gathering is also another sub-unit, and so on and so forth. So I'm almost sure that 90-95% of the discussions had to deal with iyong appreciation of one person's role, in particular, Yebra, and where he failed or complied with the mandates given to him."
Regular exchanges ongoing
Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo maintained that the relationship between China, Hong Kong, and the Philippines was not affected by the result of the Palace's review on the Manila hostage crisis report.
Romulo said on Thursday that regular exchanges between the Philippines and China are continuing.
He added that a delegation from China's Foreign Ministry Relations, headed by Assistant Foreign Minister Hu Zhengyue, is in the country, and the result of the Palace's review was not even discussed in talks with Philippine officials.
Based on his meeting with Beijing officials, Romulo said China believes that the hostage taking was an isolated incident, and that it should not affect the good relations between the two countries.
He, however, admitted that it is important that a high level delegation go to Hong Kong and China for a visit because “talking” is important in diplomacy.
“This is the sum total of the collective wisdom of everybody who participated in the review. We believe this is the proper course of action, and these will be the ones that will prosper.” with a report from Sheryll Mundo, ABS-CBN News