MANILA, Aug. 23 (Xinhua) -- Six passengers were released from a tourist bus hijacked in the Philippine capital Manila on Monday morning, the local media reported.
|A police officer turned into a hostage taker stands at the entrance of a bus|
containing passengers who have been taken hostage while parked near Quirino
Grandstand in Manila August 23, 2010. (Xinhua)
The hostage taker released three children and their guardians. They are now in the custody of local police, according to a report filed by ABS CBN News Channel.
Most of the passengers onboard are from Hong Kong. A total of 20 tourists and one guide from Hong Kong were onboard the bus when they were taken hostage by a dismissed Filipino policeman.
The remaining 19 hostages in the bus are 15 tourists, one tour guide, one bus driver and two cameramen. The two cameramen and the bus driver are reportedly negotiating with the hijacker.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) identified the hostage taker as former Police Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza. Mendoza was dismissed from service for extortion and forcing a chef to swallow "shabu."
Mendoza was carrying an M-16 rifle when he abducted the bus, with plate number TUU 799, Monday morning. The abduction was held near Rizal Park, a major tourist site in Manila.
Two police officers, Superintendent Orlando Yebra Jr. and Chief Inspector Romeo Salvador, have started negotiations with Mendoza.
Mendoza is demanding authorities to clear his name and be reinstated to the service.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III has appealed to Mendoza to "honor and respect" the lives of hostages. The government is hoping that tourists will view it as an "isolated incident" and that "it does not reflect real situation of the country."
Chinese embassy officials have rushed to the site in helping resolve the hostage case.
The remaining hostages in the bus have been served with food and water from people outside the but.
In Hong Kong, manager of Hongthai travel agency Lau Mei-sze has confirmed that six tourists including three children, 2 adults and one tour guide, had been released by the abductors.
She said the 22 Hong Kongers had planned to come back to Hong Kong on Monday evening.
Joseph Tung, the executive director of Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong (TIC), said the passengers were aged between 4 and 72.