HONG KONG/PHILIPPINES: Concerns, questions at hostage takings tragic end 

AHRC-STM-181-2010The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) wishes to express its deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of the eight Hong Kong nationals who were killed in a 11-hour hostage crisis in Manila yesterday. Our thoughts also go out to those who were wounded and their families. It is regrettable that the victims who were in need of security and protection were themselves victims of a person who was once a protector and the poor crisis management of the Philippine National Police in dealing with the situation.

As we mourn with the families who lost their loved ones, we also share their demands for an explanation from the government of the Philippines as to what went wrong. These are questions put forward not only by the people of Hong Kong, but also Filipinos who live and work in the territory. Hong Kong is presently a haven to over 140,000 Filipino migrant workers and thousands of professionals, residents and, historically, has been a place of refuge for Filipino political exiles. While the Filipinos in Hong Kong have been largely protected and secure in their day-to-day lives, it is unfortunate that the country where they came from failed to provide the same degree of protection for the visitors from Hong Kong.

While the tragic circumstances cannot be denied the AHRC is deeply concerned by people who are trying to blow this incident out of proportion by manipulating the tragedy in expressing their anger. We have already been informed via an SMS (short messaging service) today of an incident in which a man in Kowloon Tong was heard to have shouted: “We employ them (Filipinos) in our homes and they murder us in their homes”. This tragedy should not become a conflict of nationalities and it must not, at any point, be seen as such.

There is also a growing concern among Filipinos. In one instance, a Filipina, who is a mother of two, had already express concern and reluctance in allowing her two children to go to the playground today. After living and working in Hong Kong for years, she has never had concerns over the security and safety of her children until the hostage taking incident. Now she is concerned because one of her children is scheduled to go to school next week when the schools reopen after the summer holidays.

The tragedy is mourned, not only by the people of Hong Kong but also by most Filipinos who have yet to come to terms with the state of policing in their own country. They are also angered and are asking many questions; they are grieved and shamed by the failure of their police force and their own government to protect people in their own country.

The AHRC draws the attention of the Hong Kong government and the Philippine Consulate to pay close attention to the reactions of the people in the territory. The safety of Filipinos should not be compromised by hatred and anger. To initiate a dialogue, the AHRC has solicited the opinions and views from Hong Kong residents that we would like the government to pay attention to:

I truly agree this tragedy is likely due to the problems in the police force of the Philippines. There are flaws all over the system. Whether the gunman was innocent as he claimed, the way the police treated the matter was very disturbing:

How come it took them so long to break into the bus to the rescue? There were similar cases in other countries and the first thing the police do is to break in and rescue the people, which could’ve been done within minutes, not hours.

The HK government and CEO (chief executive) has requested that the safety of the hostages is in priority but it is very clear that this is not what the Philippines police force thought.

Why was it so easy for the gunman to obtain such heavy-duty guns in the country?

Why did the police have to take his wife, brother, daughter(to the scene) under such a situation and make him even more mad?

I wonder whether those hostages killed were actually killed by the gunman or is there a possibility that the policemen, trying to fire at the gunman accidentally killed the innocents? (There are no formal reports from the police yet).

Was it all because of money? If there’s no corruption in the force, what would happen? If they had more money to be better equipped, would the police have gone into the bus right away instead of waiting for 11 hours?

It was reported that the police were actually laughing when they first went into the bus. Doesn’t seem like the police have any respect over the dead and also weren’t serious enough in handling the situation.

The media and people around the bus were able to rush over as soon as they claimed the death of the gunmen. In normal circumstances, wouldn’t the police have blocked the area and stopped people from entering? I could see more media and passers-by than the rescue team.

I hope hatred won’t build up more and I do understand this is just a random incident. There are things we cannot control but there’re ways they could’ve made the incident less tragic. I hope the Philippines govt can go through a thorough investigation on the matter as soon as possible.


It’s really SHOCK(ING) to see the way how the police dealt with the incident.

The whole incident lasted for almost 11 hours. ‘No negotiator was sent’ to speak to the gunman, to understand his requests and try to comfort his emotions. If they had done so, it may not have happened the way it did.

Why the police ‘arrest’ his family AT THIS CRITICAL MOMENT????? They did not only arrest them but they let the media to show it on the TV, and made the gunman more angry. Really can’t understand what are they thinking?

Poor strategy and equipment. They don’t even have a plan how to save the hostages. They surrounded the bus and use ONLY ONE hammer to break the window. At the very sensitive and critical moment, most of the time they are LAUGHING!!!! The whole saving process lasted for more than 30 minutes. It was long enough for the gunman to kill all of the hostages. I cannot imagine if I was one of them in the bus, we might be just waiting to die. Their behaviour just provoked his emotion and anger.

Disappointed at the Philippine’s government with their response, neglecting our lives and not even trying to do anything to stop the incident. How can we have confidence to travel to the Philippines?


Thanks for helping Hong Kong citizen to express their feelings.

Their equipment is not enough ~ don’t talk about the big equipment for breaking the door & window such as Hydraulic arm and small bomb etc., some police even don’t have basic equipment to protect themselves, such as helmet, body armour and shield etc.

Training is not enough
They try to break the glass at the back of the bus but why they didn’t prepare the ladder to climb up? It is the common sense that the seat at the back is normally higher than the other seat, it is already not a good choice to try to get in the bus from the back side but they still didn’t know that they should prepare the ladder to climb up. If you watch the TV last night, you can find that they broke the glass and tried to climb up but they tried so many times but failed because it was too high. Then they used some wood nearby to make the step.

Why they don’t know how to open the front door and safe door at the back. I think all the people in HK know there is a button to open the door outside even if the bus driver is not there. I found that they tried to find the button at the front door but failed to find it, it is impossible, if they trained before, they must know every type of opening method of the car. And, they spend so much time to break the glass but why don’t open the safety door immediately. It doesn’t lock and is very easy to open. Sarcasm, they finally also open the safe door to get in.

How come they didn’t know that the glass can be broken easily if they used another type of hammer from the square hammer to the sharp hammer. If they use the sharp hammer to make even a small hole, the glass will become like a “bee home” then you can easily take the whole piece of the glass out. In Hong Kong, you can find the sharp hammer in every public transport for people to break the glass to escape under the urgent cases.

Why they didn’t know that if you want to negotiate with the hunter, you must not make him more angry. But they still do that. Firstly, the police tried to arrest his brother, then he started to shoot the people. Secondly, the police used so many hours to break the glass, I am sure that that man will try to kill more people during that period. Actually, they must get in the bus in not more than 30 seconds. The gunman knew they were trying to get in and there was no more negotiations.

Attitude of the police and the Philippines government
If they didn’t want to negotiate with the hunter, why did they still need to wait for more than seven hours to start to try to get in the bus. What did they do for that seven hours. The government didn’t take this case seriously.

When the police tried to find the way to save the people it was as if they were making a joke, they never thought that it is a serious case; they never stopped laughing in the process of saving the people. It is shown very clearly from the TV.

Why didn’t the Philippine government promise the man what he wanted to save the people? They could have arrested him later. According to the news, they said that there was a same case three years ago at the same place. A man kidnapped some kids & two teachers to ask for the government to improve the benefit of the kid. The government promised him. Of course, he was put in jail but all the hostages were saved and no one was killed. Why they couldn’t do the same this time. Is that they just want to kill that man? Any reason behind that? Are the police afraid that he will speak something to the media over the world to make trouble for them?


I am not qualified to say anything about the way in which the police handled the affair as I have not had time to view all of the reports and videos. However, I would like to say that I think it unreasonable for the Hong Kong, Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) to put the PI (Philippines) on the blacklist for travel over this incident. As tragic as it was it was an isolated incident and any look at the recent history of the PI will show that this is the case.


Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AHRC-STM-181-2010
Countries : Philippines,
Issues : Police negligence, Victims assistance & protection,