FILIPINOS living in Hong Kong joined calls for a speedy investigation on the tragic hostage incident last Monday that left eight foreigners and the suspect dead.

In a statement, the United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-HK) said it is imperative for the Philippine government to conduct a speedy probe on the matter as it will provide the necessary closure to everyone.

Post your reaction to the Manila hostage crisis

“We still believe that the central concern is justice and how to ensure that the investigation is made objectively, speedily and thoroughly,” said the UNIFIL-HK in a statement.

“It is this call that the Filipino community in Hong Kong, together with the Hong Kong people, will closely monitor until it is achieved,” it added.

On Tuesday, the Philippine National Police (PNP) admitted that there were lapses in the handling of the Quirino Grandstand hostage drama involving dismissed cop Rolando Mendoza.

Aquino on Tuesday had ordered a thorough investigation of the matter.

The group expressed oneness with Hong Kong nationals saying they too feel the pain stemming from the death of the hostages.

“The pain felt by the people of Hong Kong and shared by the Filipino community is apparent,” it stressed.

“Filipino migrant workers here share the Hong Kong people’s shock and dismay at how poorly the crisis situation was handled,” UNIFIL-HK further said.

Fact-finding body created

The Philippine government created an inter-agency committee that would investigate the incident and recommend sanctions to police officials who failed to resolve the hostage-taking incident Monday.

Undersecretary Jose Vicente Salazar, officer-in-charge of the Department of Justice, said the Incident Review Committee convened Wednesday night to start its probe.

The IRC was chaired by Secretary Jesse Robredo of the Department of Interior and Local Government with Justice Secretary Leila De Lima as vice chair.

The fact-finding body will also have Philippine National Police Chief Jesus Versoza and National Bureau of Investigation Director Magtanggol Gatdula, among others.

Several agencies such as the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Commission on Human Rights and media groups will also be invited in the inquiry.

Salazar said the meeting will identify the so-called “institutional problems” that contributed to the failure of the police to control the situation, as well as provide guidelines for future reference.

He said it will likewise determine whether individuals involved in the hostage crisis have some accountability.

“Of course, this will just be purely recommendatory because the ultimate decision will have to be done by the proper agencies,” he said at a press briefing.

“I think the partnership between media and government is crucial in any incident like this one, we are not single-pointing. What we intend to do is to avoid a similar incident in the future,” he added.

The committee, which is given 60 days to submit its report to President Benigno Aquino III, will also examine problems on logistical and administrative concerns, which might have contributed to the bloody end of the incident.

An isolated case

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) reiterated that hostage crisis was only an isolated incident.

DFA spokesman Eduardo Malaya said the death of foreigners does not automatically reflect the fate of every tourist visiting the country.

“The incident is an isolated case and is no way reflective of the peace and order situation in the Philippines. The Philippine government is committed to ensuring the safety of all foreign nationals within its territory,” said Malaya.

On Monday night, Hong Kong issued a black travel alert owing to the “severe threat” in the country with its nationals being advised to avoid travel to the Philippines.

Indonesia, Thailand, Nepal, Iran, Pakistan, and Russia also issued similar advisories against travel to the Philippines, according to radio reports Tuesday.

But Russian Consul Evgeny Fidchuk in a phone interview with Sun.Star Tuesday said there is no communication yet from Moscow, Russia regarding travel advisory.

An insider from Indonesia Embassy in Manila also made the same statement that their government has not issued yet any travel alert.

The DFA also clarified that there are no news travel advisories issued against the Philippines.

Contrary to reports that came out, Malaya said reports from different Philippine posts did not indicate any other travel advisories that stemmed from the tragic hostage drama.

“Philippine Embassies and Consulates-General around the world reported to the DFA that there are no new travel advisories for the Philippines in the countries they cover,” said Malaya.

The DFA however stressed that they are respecting the “prerogative” of the different nations to issue travel advisories.

“We recognize the exercise of the prerogative of the governments to issue a travel alert in the light of the tragic end to the incident,” said Malaya.

Last Monday, dismissed police official Rolando Mendoza seized a tourist bus carrying 25 people and endured a 12-hour hostage crisis in Manila that ended in a bloodbath.(AMN/JCV/Sunnex)