Palace assures independent presidential action on IIRC report

September 20, 2010 10:36 am 

MANILA, Sept. 20 — President Benigno Aquino III's action on recommendations in the Incident Investigation and Review Committee (IIRC) report covering the Aug. 23, 2010 Manila hostage crisis won't be influenced by China's possible comments about this document.

"Such won't be a relevant factor," assured Communications Group Secretary Herminio Coloma.

He acknowledged that while "it's natural for the Chinese government to comment on the report," Mr. Aquino is already studying this document so he can act on IIRC's recommendations for addressing factors that resulted in the crisis' deadly outcome.

"It's the President's responsibility to ensure his action is justified," Coloma noted.

Mr. Aquino will announce his action after studying the report.

Last month, he ordered the justice and interior departments to form IIRC and jointly investigate the controversial hostage taking incident so facts on this case can be established.

The crisis ended in death of dismissed Philippine National Police Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza -the hostage taker- and eight of the Hong Kong visitors he held against their will inside a tourist bus.

President Aquino already vowed to hold accountable government personnel whose neglect of duty led to this crisis' tragic end.

Malacanang believes the IIRC report will help President Aquino reach an independent and fair decision.

"The probe team took all possible steps to ensure its findings are accurate and comprehensive," Coloma said.

He noted the team's investigation was also transparent since different media entities even aired live coverage of its inquiries except closed-door executive sessions.

IIRC head and justice secretary Leila de Lima is the person authorized to talk about the report.

"We don't see a long wait for this report's details," Coloma said.

His communications colleague Secretary Ricky Carandang expects government to make the report public early this week.

Earlier reports said Malacanang decided to furnish the Chinese government a copy of IIRC's report before divulging its contents to the public.

House minority leader and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman believes Malacanang should have decided otherwise.

"Filipinos must be the first to know," he said.

On Sept. 20, however, reports surfaced that de Lima assured simultaneous release of IIRC's report to the Chinese government and Filipino people.

Coloma said furnishing the report is "out of courtesy to China" particularly since the Philippine government assured a thorough and fair investigation of the hostage-taking incident.

Carandang agrees such courtesy is called for.

"It's an act of kindness since several Chinese died during the hostage crisis -I can't see how it can be a violation of sovereignty," he said.

He added furnishing China a copy of the report is in line with the administration's transparency bid. (PNA)



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