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Philippines Quick to Handle Reaction to Hostage Incident

  • Ira Mellman

A paramedic (top) lowers one of the wounded survivor from the hijacked bus in Manila, 23 Aug 2010

Philippino officials have reacted quickly to the possible financial fallout of Monday's deadly hostage taking situation and shooting aboard a tourist bus carrying visitors from Hong Kong.

Authorities say a disgruntled former police officer killed at least eight Hong Kong tourists he held hostage aboard their hijacked bus in central Manila.

A police sniper shot and killed Rolando Mendoza after a 12-hour standoff Monday, but not before he opened fire on his hostages -- killing eight and wounding seven.

Philippines President Benigno Aquino III defended the police handling of the incident, saying there had been hopes it would end peacefully. But he said he could not be satisfied when people were killed, and promised an investigation.

The man who governs Hong Kong, Donald Tsang questioned the way the situation was handled, particularly the outcome which he called, "disappointing."

The Hong Kong government issued an alert against travel to the Philippines and urged all Hong Kong residents already in the Philippines to come home as soon as possible.

Alberto Lim, who heads the Philippines tourism department, said "at least in the short-term there will be a negative effect on the tourism industry." He said the government planned to carry out a media program, especially in Hong Kong, to explain that this is an isolated case. "It is not a breakdown of law and order in the Philippines," he said.

Tourism is big business in the Philippines. The Tourism Department says so far this year, over 3 and a half million people have visited their country.