Monday, September 27, 2010

Hongkong official thanks Philippine National Red Cross

Jojo Roble
Manila Standard Today
17 September 2010

Not a lot of people are aware of it, but of all the organizations and agencies involved during the hostage crisis at Rizal Park last month, the Philippine Red Cross stood out one of the most quietly effective. This fact that has not escaped the Hong Kong Red Cross and the media in that city, who praised local volunteers for their good work when every one else was bungling their job or getting in the way.

Last Sept. 2, in fact, in an e-mail to PNRC Chairman Richard Gordon, Betty Lau, acting head for international relief services of the Hong Kong Red Cross expressed her deep gratitude for “the timely and much needed assistance rendered to the needy during the tragic hostage-taking incident in Manila.” In appreciation, Lau said her organization committed to raise $110,00 for the victims of typhoon Ondoy.

A Hong Kong couple that survived the hostage-taking also thanked the Philippine Red Cross for their safe release. In an interview with CNN’s Anna Coren, survivor Li Yik Bun said that it was Red Cross that facilitated his release after the hostage-taker was informed by his wife of his medical condition.

Philippine Red Cross social services staff also conducted the critical stress debriefing on the nine hostage victims released by the hostage-taker that afternoon from the commandeered tourist bus. The PRC also facilitated the transfer of the nine freed hostages from the site to the Manila Pavilion Hotel where they were staying.

And the excellent work of the Red Cross was even noticed by the Hong Kong press, most of whom lambasted the government for the fiasco. An article in the Hong Kong Economic Times praised the PRC for its humanitarian care and assistance to the victims of the hostage-taking.

The crisis played out while Gordon was in Hong Kong, of all places. But the former senator was in constant contact with PRC staff in the park and helped ensure that not everyone made a mess of things that fateful day.

In an interview on CNN the following morning (, Gordon commiserated with the victims and their families. “What is most important is that we express our deepest condolences and prayers to the families and victims, and I think I speak for the entire Filipino nation who don’t want this tragedy to happen.”

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