I only got HK$8,000, says Manila survivor
Maggie Ng and Simpson Cheung
Two badly wounded survivors of the Manila bus siege massacre say they have only received between HK$5,000 and HK$8,000 each from insurer Chartis Insurance.
Joe Chan Kwok-chu, who was hit in the hands by a bullet from ex-policeman Roland Mendoza's M16 assault rifle, was responding to a press statement issued on Wednesday by Chartis, which said it had paid out HK$350,000 in total in respect of both of the survivors. Chan said he had never received the HK$350,000 mentioned in the statement.
He said had only received HK$7,000 to HK$8,000 compensation. His friend Yik Siu-ling, whose thumbs and lower jaw were shattered when the gunman shot her in the face, received only HK$5,000 to HK$6,000, according to Chan.
The statement from Chartis Insurance said Chan and Yik had received compensation as stated on the travel insurance policy.
'[The insurance includes] a medical charter flight sending them back to Hong Kong, doctors accompaniment, hospital reimbursement, early journey cancellation reimbursement and loss of luggage reimbursement. The total amount of the above mentioned reimbursements is HK$350,000,' it said.
Chan said Chartis' mention of HK$350,000 was misleading because it also included the cost of the charter flight. 'This is a tragedy seen by the whole world. How can they refuse to compensate [further]? ... It (Chartis) really does not have any corporate conscience,' he said.
On the day after the shooting on August 24 last year, a representative from Chartis Insurance said at a press conference with Hong Thai Travel Services that each of the families of the people killed during the siege might get up to HK$1.32 million in compensation.
Meanwhile, the Philippines' consulate general in Hong Kong yesterday confirmed that nine more Philippine witnesses would testify at Hong Kong's inquest into the deaths of eight Hongkongers killed in last year's Manila bus siege, but they may have only one day in which to do so.
Coroner's Officer Jat Sew-tong SC yesterday told the inquest that all potential witnesses had been informed months ago that today would be the inquest's final day and the last day for giving evidence on the August 23 massacre.
Altogether, 116 Philippine witnesses were summoned, of whom only one - the lone gunman's brother - has testified before the inquest, which began on February 14 and was expected to conclude today.
On Wednesday gunman Rolando Mendoza's younger brother, Gregorio, testified via videolink. On the day of the siege his arrest as an accessory was immediately followed by a series of gunshots in the bus.
Jat suggested that, in today's hearing, the court could hear as much evidence as time allowed and conclude all testimony by the end of the day.
Coroner Michael Chan Pik-kiu agreed but said that the court would allow for more time if any useful testimony emerged. Val Simon Roque, the Philippine vice-consul in Hong Kong, said that one of the nine witnesses expected today is from the National Bureau of Investigation, while the other eight were officers of the Philippine National Police.
Jat said outside the court that the eight witnesses included those who had conducted autopsies and postmortem examinations on the deceased. Five of these witnesses were expected to testify on Tuesday, but it was later revealed that their attendance had not been confirmed.
Meanwhile, family members of victims and survivors of the bloodbath yesterday requested a meeting with Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen. Speaking on their behalf, Tse Chi-kin, elder brother of deceased tour guide Masa Tse Ting-chunn, expressed concern that the government had not done enough to compel the Philippine government to co-operate with the inquest.
A government spokesman said the chief executive had phoned the foreign ministry, urging that officials pass on Hong Kong's demands to Manila.
Tse Chi-kin's lawyer, Hector Pun Hei, is expected to make submissions early next week. The coroner will sum up the evidence and direct the jury on a verdict.