Wednesday, September 1, 2010

High-level group going to HK, Beijing

By Jay Chua and Victor Reyes

Malaya, Thursday, August 26, 2010

PRESIDENT Aquino yesterday said he is sending a high-level
delegation to China and Hong Kong to explain to their leaders
what happened during the hostage-taking on Monday which left
eight Hong Kong residents dead.

Vice President Jejomar Binay is leading the delegation which
includes Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo and presidential
spokesman Edwin Lacierda. The group is leaving this morning.

"They’re conducting the necessary arrangements with the embassy
to travel to Beijing and to Hong Kong. In Beijing, they will
personally deliver our messages to President Hu Jintao and also
the foreign minister (Yang Jiechi) and they will then proceed to
Hong Kong to talk to the chief of the Special Administrative
Region, Mr. Donald Tsang, again to deliver our letters," Aquino

A chartered Cathay Pacific flight left yesterday afternoon for
Hong Kong, carrying eight survivors and 19 relatives, and the
bodies of the eight fatalities in sealed containers. Also aboard
the Airbus 330 were some 30 officials and 26 media members,
according to Jose Angel Honrado, general manager of the Manila
International Airport.

Cabinet officials sent them off.

Sixty Navy men in white acted as pall bearers. The sailors also
provided plane-side honors.

Lt. Col. Edgard Arevalo, Navy spokesman, said the honors were
meant to show the Filipino people’s unity with the victims’
families and with other Hong Kong residents in mourning the

Arevalo could not say when the last time the Navy provided
similar honors to foreigners. He said such honors are usually
given to a military dignitary or hero.

Arevalo said the sailors paid honors without firearms, without
a military band, and in white uniforms in keeping with Chinese

Arevalo said Navy chief Rear Adm. Danilo Cortez ordered the
honors on the instruction of Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin,
after coordinating with Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman.

The sealed coffins started to arrive at the Miascor Cargo Center
at about 3 p.m. in eight funeral cars.

Media men were prevented from going near the coffins. They were
also not allowed to take pictures, reportedly on orders of
Interior Secretary Jessie Robredo.

Aside from Robredo, the other officials who were at the airport’s
Dignitaries’ Lounge were Lacierda, Soliman, Executive Secretary
Paquito Ochoa, Tourism Secretary Bert Lim and Sen. Ferdinand Marcos

The survivors were ushered into pre-departure gate Number 1 to
wait for their 7 p.m. departure.

Some covered themselves with blankets, evading cameras. All of
the survivors refused to be interviewed.

An elderly woman could not hold back her tears and kept saying
"zhe-zhe (thank you)" to all of the officials who shook her hands.

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