News / Asia

Hong Kong Rallies Demand Justice in Manila Bus Tragedy

Tens of thousands of people marched in Hong Kong Sunday to demand answers from the Philippine government over the deaths of eight Hong Kong tourists in a bus siege in the Manila last week.  Despite assurances and apologies from Philippine officials, anger remains among residents here.

Residents dressed in black and white walked in silence from Victoria Park in eastern Hong Kong island to the Central business district.

Some carried banners demanding the Philippine government investigate the botched attempt by police to rescue hostages held by a gunman on a tourist bus in Manila last Monday.  Eight Hong Kong tourists were killed and several others wounded in the rescue attempt.

There were concerns that the protest would only stoke racial tensions in the city, where more than 100,000 Filipinos work, mostly as domestic helpers. But the rally ended peacefully.

Earlier in the day, an interfaith prayer service was held at the central business district, where most helpers congregate on their Sunday day off.

Eman Villanueva, vice chairman of the Filipino Migrant Workers' Union, downplayed those concerns.

"Most of the people in Hong Kong know that it is not the migrant workers they should be angry at," he said. "I think that's why there are only isolated cases of dismissals or ill treatment towards Filipinos."

Philippine police say Rolando Mendoza, a former decorated police officer who was fired from his job for alleged extortion, shot the tourists. Philippine President Benigno Aquino has apologized for the tragedy and promised a speedy investigation.

But ties between Manila and Beijing have become strained because of the tragedy. Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang canceled his trip to Manila in September, and Beijing refused to receive the Philippine vice president and foreign secretary until the investigation is completed.

Hong Kong police sent five officers and two forensic experts to assist the Philippine investigation. Lai Tung-kwok, undersecretary for security, said Hong Kong police are also conducting their own investigation based on autopsies of the victims and interviews with survivors.

"This will give a lot of factual information that may be of assistance to the Philippine police,"  Lai said.

The march Sunday also mourned those killed. Many people carried white flowers and wore yellow ribbons. A candlelight vigil followed the march.

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