(YAHOO!NEWS) GMANews.TV GMANews.TV - Reviewing the report of a composite fact-finding board on the Aug. 23 hostage tragedy tops President Benigno Aquino III’s busy weekend, Malacañang said today.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Aquino’s review of the Incident Investigation and Review Committee (IIRC) has even taken precedence over an upcoming official visit to the United States.

Full attention on extensive ten-volume report

“Ngayon I’m sure binabasa ng pangulo ang IIRC report. Maliban diyan ang speeches, ime-meet niya, napaghandaan na yan (Right now I am sure the president is reading the IIRC report. Aside from the IIRC report he will be poring over his speeches and preparations for his meetings in the US)," Lacierda said on government-run dzRB radio.

“Ten volumes ang annexes so mahaba-haba ang babasahin ng presidente, mahaba ginawa ng IIRC (The report has 10 volumes of annexes, so the president has a lot pore over. The IIRC's work was extensive)," he added.

Preparations for US visit take a backseat

Lacierda said that the IIRC report, which has been in Aquino's hands since Friday, has gained the president's full attention.

He added that Aquino will shift his attention to the preparations for his US visit during flight itself. Besides, Lacierda assured, the president's speeches were already prepared months in advance.

“He will have time to go over the speeches and briefers while on the way (to the US)," Lacierda said.

On the other hand, the spokesman declined to divulge details of the IIRC report, saying that he has not yet personally seen it.

Assurances against whitewash

Lacierda also declined to comment on claims that media was being used as a scapegoat of sorts in the hostage tragedy, amid reports that media personalities were among at least 12 people recommended to be charged for the tragedy.

However, Lacierda insisted that there will be no whitewash involved, as Manila will furnish Beijing a copy of the report before making its contents public.

“Kung may agam-agam na may whitewash o babaguhin ang report, di totoo yan. Ibibigay yan sa Chinese government. (If there is any doubt of a whitewash, that is not true. A copy will be given to the Chinese government.) It shows the report stays as it is," he said.

Eight Hong Kong tourists were killed along with their hostage-taker, dismissed Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza, in the 11-hour standoff last August 23.

The incident has strained relations between the Philippines and China and Hong Kong.- TJD, GMANews.TV


Aquino Vows to Fire Execs Liable for Hostage Fiasco Manila Bulletin Manila Bulletin - Friday, September 17

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno S. Aquino III started reviewing on Friday the report of the Incident Investigation and Review Committee (IIRC) on the August 23 hostage-taking in front of the Quirino Grandstand in Manila.

He earlier vowed to fire officials found to have failed expectations in resolving the standoff. In his speech at the Economic Leaders' Business Conference in Malacañang Friday morning, Aquino said he was already halfway through the report and would try finishing the report before the end of the day.

The IIRC, chaired by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, recommended to President Benigno S. Aquino III the filing of charges against 12 individuals in connection with the hostage fiasco. De Lima refused to give the names of the 12 personalities and even refused to answer question if Manila Mayor Alfredo S. Lim and other government officials are among the 12 personalities. "I cannot answer that otherwise I would preempt the President...12 kakasuhan (recommended)," said De Lima, adding that it climbed to 12 after the initial 10 names.

De Lima was scheduled to meet with Aquino in Malacañang on Friday. IIRC's report is also expected to be presented to Chinese government officials by a high-level delegation led by Vice President Jejomar Binay and Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo.

This developed as Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse M. Robredo opted to inhibit himself from the discussion on the aspect of the accountability of public officials. Robredo is vice chairman of the IIRC tasked by the President to investigate the August 23 bloody hostage-taking. Robredo said he decided to inhibit himself to avert a possible public misconception that his presence in the panel was meant to "soften" the charges to be filed against the subject officials.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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