Officials in the Philippines are investigating what happened during the deadly bus hostage crisis last month in Manila. An inquiry panel has been told that police had no hostage negotiation team to deal with the crisis in which eight Hong Kong tourists were killed.
Manila's police superintendent Orlando Yebra was in charge of talking to the hostage-taker during the 12-hour incident on August 23.
"The PNP [Philippine National Police] does not have a negotiation unit, officially created negotiation unit," said Orlando Yebra.
Yebra told the inquiry Monday that he acts as a negotiator when needed. Yebra said he proposed a negotiation unit in 2007 but no one followed up on his suggestion.
During the crisis, Yebra said he was given no intelligence support. He said the national police supposedly assigned him other officers but they never contacted him.
"Without me knowing that it was indeed ordered, or without me hearing that the order was given, I just saw the SWAT running towards the bus," said Yebra. "So I knew there was order for an assault."
The bus siege ended in a poorly executed police rescue attempt in which the hostage-taker, former police officer Rolando Mendoza, was shot dead. But the tourists were found dead on the bus. Hong Kong residents have protested the handling of the police raid on the bus, which was televised live.
Hong Kong residents have in the past accounted for about 10 percent of foreign travelers to the Philippines. But Official Chinese media says the bus hostage incident has prompted the cancellation of more than 1,000 Philippine tour packages by travelers from Hong Kong and mainland China.