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Aquino: No criminal charges from deadly bus standoff

By the CNN Wire Staff
The death of the tourists created a furor in Hong Kong, where people watched the botched operation unfold live on TV.
The death of the tourists created a furor in Hong Kong, where people watched the botched operation unfold live on TV.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The president rejects recommendations for criminal charges
  • The botched police rescue led to the deaths of eight tourists from Hong Kong
  • Manila's mayor and four police officers should be sanctioned, the president says
  • A deputy ombudsman should be investigated on an extortion allegation, the president says

(CNN) -- The Philippine government will pursue administrative sanctions, rather than criminal charges, against officials involved in a botched hostage rescue that left eight tourists from Hong Kong dead, the country's president said.

President Benigno Aquino rejected the severest of recommendations from an independent investigative committee that had looked into the August 23 standoff. The panel had proposed criminal or administrative charges against top police officials and three television networks.

Among Aquino's decisions:

-- Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim should be sanctioned for neglect and misconduct in office.

-- Police Chief Superintendent Rodolfo Magtibay should be sanctioned for gross incompetence and serious neglect of duty.

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-- Manila regional police chief Leocadio Santiago should be sanctioned for less grave neglect of duty.

-- Police Chief Inspector Santiago Pascual III should be sanctioned for gross incompetence.

-- Chief hostage negotiator Orlando Yebra should be sanctioned for neglect of duty.

-- Deputy Ombudsman Emilio Gonzales III should be sanctioned for gross neglect of duty and/or inefficiency in the performance of official duty.

Gonzales also should be investigated on a bribery allegation made by hostage-taker Rolando Mendoza.

Mendoza, a dismissed police officer, said Gonzales demanded money as Mendoza sought a review of his case.

Mendoza was a decorated police officer, but his career spiraled downward when he was dismissed a year ago for extortion. He was killed during the botched rescue.

Aquino's decision clears Interior Undersecretary Rico Puno, retired Philippine National Police chief Jesus Verzosa and Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno.

At a news briefing Monday, Aquino said he reached his decisions on advice from Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Eduardo De Mesa.

The president also recommended that four journalists be referred to a Philippine broadcast media group to determine whether they violated journalistic standards.

The death of the tourists created a furor in Hong Kong, where people watched the botched operation unfold live on TV.

Philippine authorities have blamed the live TV broadcasts for contributing to the deaths.

 
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