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Why did Donald Tsang fail to contact President Aquino?


Why did Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang fail to speak with President Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" Aquino III over the phone as the hostage crisis was taking place on Monday? Malacanang officials earlier claimed that Aquino was speaking with officials of the Department of Interior and Local Government when Tsang called but apparently the story goes deeper. On Thursday, Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning head Ricky Carandang said Tsang contacted Aquino through the Malacanang trunk line at around 5:00 p.m. on Monday. "Normally when there is a high-level call like that, the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) will notify us that there will be a call. That didn't happen. Since he came through the trunkline which was not usual, the President's aide didn't want to pass it on without some kind of verification," said Carandang. "So what he (aide) did was he told a secretary, he said, 'put the phone down and we will call you through our foreign minister'," said Carandang. Carandang said the Palace aide called up Romulo's office and told the DFA that Donald Tsang's office called. The DFA said it would call back the Palace, and then later claimed that it couldn't get in touch with Tsang until 10 p.m.--more than an hour after the crisis ended. "By then, it was too late. Donald Tsang had issued his angry statement saying that he couldn't get through to the President," said Carandang. Carandang said there was no truth to reports that Malacanang did not know who Donald Tsang was when the Hong Kong chief executive called. "He was Donald Tsang. They knew who he was. It just didn't go through the normal channels," he said. Aquino finally managed to talk to Tsang over the phone Tuesday afternoon, when he called up the Hong Kong leader after he met with Chinese Ambassador Liu Jianchao in Malacanang. On Monday, former police Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza hijacked a tourist bus carrying 21 Hong Kong tourists and four Filipinos in front of the Quirino Grandstand in Manila. The hostage drama turned bloody when the hostage-taker reportedly became angry after seeing his brother being arrested on a live television broadcast of the incident. The bus driver escaped and shouted as he ran that everyone on the bus was already dead. It was then that the police launched an assault on the bus. At the end of the 12-hour confrontation, Mendoza and eight tourists from Hong Kong were found dead. The Aquino administration's handling of the crisis has drawn much criticism locally and abroad, with experts and analysts pointing out that police who handled the incident appeared to be poorly trained and ill-equipped. –VVP, GMANews.TV
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