Gov't mulls compensation for bus hostage bloodbath
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines is considering paying compensation to families of eight Hong Kong tourists who were killed when their bus was hijacked by a sacked policeman, an official said Friday.
The Chinese and Hong Kong governments have demanded an exhaustive inquiry into the August 23 bloodbath in Manila, while the Hong Kong legislature on Thursday passed a non-binding resolution demanding Manila apologize and pay compensation.
As the official inquiry continues, President Benigno Aquino III formed a cabinet-level committee to look into possible indemnity for the victims, said Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, a member of the committee.
"I don't think the issue here is compensation alone. What is important is to be able to show solidarity. We understand what happened. We are sympathetic to them," Abad told reporters.
He would not give an amount or timetable for giving compensation, but added that the committee was in constant touch with the governments in Hong Kong and China.
"It is a question of timing. What is important is we are prepared, we have options," Abad said.
Aquino meanwhile told reporters Friday he expected the official inquiry into the carnage to conclude next week, and has promised to provide a copy of the report to the Hong Kong and Chinese authorities.
He pledged to do all he could to prevent any repetition of the bloodshed.
"By next week... I hope we can demonstrate the capacity of our security forces in securing the people," Aquino said.
The deaths, after a 12-hour ordeal broadcast live on television around the world, triggered outrage in Hong Kong over the mishandling of the crisis.