Manila witnesses shun cruise inquiry

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 January, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 January, 1998, 12:00am

THE inquest into the death of seven Hong Kong people on a cruise in Manila last year will start tomorrow without any key witnesses from the Philippines.

Senior Inspector Derek Mak Kam-yuen said police wanted key witnesses such as boat owner Rogelio Alenzuela, pilot Romeo Parcon, and the tour guide in Manila, Sally Yip, to appear at the inquest.

But he said the individuals from the Philippines had no obligation to attend. Ms Yip was still being sought by the Philippine authorities.

Instead, three members from the Philippine Consulate, including Consul-General Estrella Berenguel, will present an investigation report by the Manila authorities.

The seven were killed when an outrigger on a sunset cruise was overturned by strong winds in Manila Bay on August 15.

The families of eight victims will represent themselves in court.

Convenor of the Manila Bay Tragedy Action Group, Daniel Fung Shik-chung, said they were disappointed that no key witnesses from Manila would appear in court.

He also expressed worries about representing themselves at the inquest.

'We appreciate the holding of the inquest. But without lawyers' representation, we don't know the detailed procedures nor do we know if we can give our opinions other than the facts to the court,' he said.

Investigations by Philippine marine authorities said the 'approximate' cause of the incident was overloading of the boat, which had an illegal second deck.