MANILA HOSTAGE TRAGEDY

Families sue Philippines over bungled bus hostage rescue

Lawsuit against government and officials filed in 11th-hour bid for millions in compensation

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 August, 2013, 7:32pm
UPDATED : Friday, 23 August, 2013, 8:35am

Survivors and the mother of a tour guide killed in the attempted rescue of hostages on a tour bus in Manila three years ago filed a lawsuit yesterday against the Philippine government and eight officials, claiming millions of dollars in compensation.

Lee Mei-chun, mother of slain guide Masa Tse Ting-chunn, and survivors Yik Siu-ling and Joe Chan Kwok-chu stated in three High Court writs that they suffered injury and loss as a result of negligence by the Philippine government and the eight officials involved in the rescue attempt.

We anticipate difficulties, but we want the central government and the [Hong Kong] government to try their very best to negotiate with the Philippine government to solve the matter

The three together filed four writs ahead of a legal deadline on the third anniversary today of the tragedy, in which sacked policeman Rolando Mendoza took 22 Hongkongers and three Filipinos hostage on a tour bus in Manila and shot eight dead before being killed himself. They took the action after their demands for an apology, compensation, punishment for officials responsible and better tourist safety were not met.

Yik and Chan filed a separate claim against Hong Thai Travel Services for negligence and breach of duty. Chan's hands were injured and Yik's lower jaw, left thumb and right index finger were shattered by a bullet.

They name the Republic of the Philippines as the first defendant. The eight officials include then Manila mayor Alfredo Lim, Manila police superintendent Rodolfo Magtibay, Police Special Action Force chief Leocadio Santiago Jnr, Philippine National Police director general Jesus Versoza, Interior and Local Governments Undersecretary Rico Puno, chief hostage negotiator Orlando Yebra, and Chief Inspector Santiago Pascual III.

Solicitor John Clancey, who represents the trio, said the eight officials were sued because they were criticised in an investigation report by Philippine Secretary for Justice Leila de Lima.

The three did not specify the amount of compensation, but legislator James To Kun-sun, who has been helping the families, estimated that the compensation would be "at least several million dollars".

To said they now had a year to serve the court documents on the defendants. Clancey said they had first to obtain permission from a Hong Kong court to serve the writs outside the city.

To said the defendants might invoke sovereign immunity to argue that Hong Kong was not the right place for a trial.

"We anticipate difficulties, but we want the central government and the [Hong Kong] government to try their very best to negotiate with the Philippine government to solve the matter."

Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok said the government would continue to press Manila to address the demands made by the survivors and families. "Nobody wants to see it drag on and on," he said, "so we will spare no effort in seeking a response from them in the hope that it can bring this issue to a satisfactory end."