Manila black alert stays

The government says it will not lift the black travel warning on the Philippines even though it is two years to the day since a sacked police officer held Hong Kong visitors hostage in Manila before killing seven of them and their tour guide.

Travel agencies said that since the tragedy, the number of locals visiting the Philippines has plunged, especially since they generally cannot buy insurance packages because of the black travel alert.

Susanna Lau Mei-sze, a manager at Travel Expert, estimated the number of Hong Kong tourists to the Philippines dropped 50 percent compared with the peak season before the tragedy.

"Most tourists prefer Malaysia for diving or other southeast Asian nations, including Singapore, and South Korea," she said.

However, media reports in Manila said visitors from Hong Kong increased 2 percent in the first quarter from the 138,000 arrivals during the same period last year.

Tse Chi-kin, elder brother of killed tour guide Masa Tse Ting- chunn, criticized the government for failing to help them seek compensation from Manila.

"I am angry that the SAR government has not put pressure on the Philippine government to accept responsibility and offer compensation to victims," Tse said.

The guide's family, along with survivors Joe Chan Kwok-chu and Yik Siu-ling, who were severely injured by gunshot wounds, will hold a meeting with Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok tomorrow.

The SAR government said it has all along been rendering assistance to the victims and their families. (The Standard)