Aquino voices sorrow over hijack deaths


Posted at Aug 24 2010 01:56 AM | Updated as of Aug 24 2010 12:44 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Philippine President Benigno Aquino expressed condolences on Tuesday to the relatives of eight Hong Kong tourists killed in a hostage crisis in Manila.

"With the rest of the Filipino people, I wish to offer our deepest condolences to the families of the victims whose lives were lost in the hostage situation at the Quirino Grandstand," Aquino said in a statement.

"The Secretary of Foreign Affairs has conveyed our deep feelings of sorrow to the Foreign Minister of the People's Republic of China and the people of Hong Kong."

In a midnight press conference on the hostage crisis, Aquino said he was not satisfied with how it was handled.

He said the police would have to improve its skills in handling such incidents as well as upgrade its equipment.

However, he noted that the gunman, dismissed police officer Rolando Mendoza, had surrounded himself with hostages and used them as shields.

Aquino said there may be a need to review media guidelines in hostage-taking incidents since the blow-by-blow coverage didn't help because he knew what was happening.

However, he said that if the government had ordered a news blackout, it would have been accused of censoring media.

He lamented that the incident would hurt the country's tourism industry and would add to the nation's problems.

Meanwhile, some Cabinet officials announced at an emergency at the Manila Doctors' Hospital that a total of 9 were killed in Monday's incident--8 Hong Kong tourists plus the lone gunman, ex-police officer Rolando Mendoza.

Seven other hostages and one Filipino bystander were injured. Some of those who surived have been brought to a hotel where they were undergoing stress debriefing. -- with Agence France-Presse; ANC; Jeff Canoy, ABS-CBN News