Arroyo writes letters of condolences to China PM, HK chiefMANILA, Philippines—While President Benigno Aquino III grapples with his first major crisis, his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Thursday wrote separate letters to Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang to express her condolences over the killing of eight Hong Kong tourists on Aug. 23.
In the letters both dated Aug. 26, Arroyo, now a representative of Pampanga, condemned the “reprehensible act of brutality” and demanded that justice be served to “honor the memory” of the victims.
She promised to keep tabs on the government investigation of the hostage-taking, and said those responsible should be “penalized.”
“With great sadness, I wish to express my deepest sympathy to you and to the people of the People’s Republic of China, especially to the families of your eight Hong Kong compatriots who were slain during the hostage-taking incident in Manila,” Arroyo said in her letter to Wen.
In her letter to Tsang, she conveyed “profound condolences” to Hong Kong residents, “especially to the families of your compatriots who met their tragic death during the hostage-taking incident.”
In a statement, Arroyo’s spokesperson Elena Bautista-Horn said the former President was “saddened [by] the result of the hostage-taking incident.”
“As you know, Dr. Arroyo has shown time and again that in similar incidents, whether in the Philippines or when [driver] Angelo dela Cruz was held hostage overseas, she has always shown her focus on saving even if only a single life,” Horn said.
The House of Representatives the other night unanimously passed Resolution No. 297 expressing “sincerest condolence” to the families of the eight victims.
The resolution read in part: “The House found the need to assuage the emotional pain and trauma suffered by the survivors and the families of those killed in the unwarranted tragedy.
“The Filipino people sincerely sympathize and condole with the families of the victims of the tragedy, most of whom are Hong Kong [residents].”
The resolution was authored by Albay Rep. Al Francis Bichara, chair of the committee on foreign affairs, and Representatives Christopher Co, Rodel Batocabe and Alfredo Garbin Jr. of the party-list group Ako Bicol.
Copies are to be forwarded to the Department of Foreign Affairs, Chinese Embassy in Manila and Philippine Consulate in Hong Kong.
It was noted in the resolution that the Chinese government had expressed concern over the tragedy and demanded an investigation, and that Hong Kong, along with several other countries, had imposed a ban on travel to the Philippines.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte has authorized a House inquiry into the hostage-taking.