THE body tasked to investigate the Aug. 23 hostage-taking in Manila, in which eight Hong Kong tourists and their captor were killed, will today question the driver of the tourist bus whose false claim led police to launch an assault to get the gunman, an official said Sunday.
The committee led by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said it will question Alberto Lubang, the driver of the tourist bus who managed to escape from a window and then told police that all the hostages on the bus had been killed by dismissed policeman Rolando Mendoza.
The committee will also hear the testimonies of chief negotiator Orlando Yebra, the reporters who covered the incident, and the woman who drove Mendoza to Intramuros, where the ex-policeman hopped aboard the tourist bus and then announced he was holding them hostage at the Luneta Grandstand in an attempt to get reinstated, De Lima said.
China and Hong Kong slammed the botched rescue attempt and demanded an explanation. Hong Kong also suspended package tours and advised its nationals not to visit the Philippines.
“We will talk to those media personalities who allegedly exceeded the bounds of their rules, or those who interviewed Mendoza during critical moments,” De Lima said.
The committee on Sunday said it needed more time to complete its investigation of the incident, which started last week and was supposed to end today, Monday.
De Lima said they might have to question more witnesses and finish the inquiry on Wednesday. They might also invite Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, she said.
“We can send her an invitation,” De Lima said.
De Lima made the announcement after Manila Police District Chief Rodolfo Magtibay testified on the first day of the inquiry that he had been coordinating with the Office of the Ombudsman during the hostage crisis.
Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno was even sent to the Office of the Ombudsman in Quezon City to find out if it was possible to grant Mendoza’s demand to be reinstated to end the hostage-taking he said.
The people who have testified before the committee so far are Interior Undersecretary Rico Puno, National Police Chief Jesus Versoza, Metro Manila Police Chief Leocadio Santiago Jr., former Manila Police District director Rodolfo Magtibay, Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, Moreno, and deputy negotiator Romeo Salvador.
Rey Requejo, Manila Standard Today