Slain Canadian tried to save Manila hostages: wife

A Canadian man who was killed along with two of his children in a hostage-taking aboard a tour bus in the Philippines on Monday died trying to save other passengers, his wife says.

A Canadian man who was killed along with two of his children in a hostage-taking aboard a tour bus in the Philippines on Monday died trying to save other passengers, his wife says.

Canadian Ken Leung was killed during the hostage-taking in Manila, along with his two daughters. ((Courtesy of Stadium Group))

Kam Wing (Ken) Leung, a Canadian-Chinese dual citizen living in Hong Kong, was among eight tourists killed after a troubled former police officer hijacked a bus and held many of the passengers hostage for 12 hours before opening fire.

"My husband died. He was very brave," Leung's wife, Amy Ng, who was also on the bus, told reporters. "He tried to prevent the gunman from killing others and he got shot himself."

The couple's daughters, Song Yi (Jessie) Leung, 14, and Chung See (Doris) Leung, 21, also died. Ng was unhurt. Son Jason Leung, who was born in Canada and recently graduated from a Mississauga, Ont., private school, remained in hospital in Manila after surgery on a head wound.

"My son is in the ICU," Ng said. "I thought I would fight for survival so I could take care of my children, but two of them have already died."

Friends said family members had dual citizenship and that the mother and two daughters lived in the Scarborough area of Toronto. Ken Leung was a managing director for Asia operations with U.K.-based electronics manufacturer Stadium Group PLC.

Jason Leung attended Bronte College of Canada, an exclusive private school in Mississauga, west of Toronto.

School officials said he graduated last month and left for Hong Kong soon after to meet with his family.

"He always put his family as first priority over everything else," said Jason's friend Ameen Khwaja. "The moment they asked him to do something, he would make sure it's done. He was pretty close to his family."

"He is a nice kid who never got in trouble," Ron Taylor, Bronte's resident co-ordinator said Tuesday.

Taylor said Jason's sister Doris was a University of Toronto student.

Canadian government condolences

Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon offered condolences to the families of the victims, and said the Canadian Embassy in Manila was working with local authorities to confirm that Canadian citizens were held on the bus.

Cannon did not provide any specific details about individual passengers, citing privacy concerns.

Jason Leung, seen in this undated photo from Facebook, is in hospital in Manila after being injured Monday in a hostage-taking in the Philippine capital. ((Facebook))

The hostage-taking began when a former police officer who wanted his job back commandeered the bus.

The standoff ended in bloodshed about 12 hours later, with police storming the bus and killing the gunman, 55-year-old Rolando Mendoza, after he fired at the tourists with a rifle.

Philippine Interior Secretary Jessie Robredo, in charge of the national police, acknowledged Tuesday that there were problems with how the crisis was handled.

"Had we been better-prepared, better-equipped, better-trained, maybe the response would have been quicker, despite the difficulty," Robredo said.

"All the inadequacies happened at the same time."

Some critics said police should have banned the media coverage of the incident. The gunman was able to watch exactly what the police were doing on the TV screen inside the bus.

Critics also said the final police assault on the gunman should have taken no more than five minutes, but bullets flew for more than an hour.

Philippine police defended their actions, saying officers who lacked proper equipment risked their lives trying to bring the standoff to an end. They also promised to review all events leading to the deaths.

"Canada welcomes the commitment of Philippine authorities to conduct a full investigation of the incident," Cannon said.

In Hong Kong, sorrow quickly evolved into outrage, with many residents expressing anger over the handling of the hostage crisis.

Philippine National Police investigators examine the bullet-riddled tourist bus. ((Bullit Marquez/Associated Press))

"We think the Philippine government used the wrong strategy," pro-Beijing legislator Lau Kong-wah told reporters. "We think the operation failed."

The Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Committee added its voice to demands for an explanation. 

But the group said it also was "deeply concerned by people who are trying to blow this incident out of proportion" and who might vent anger through retaliatory attacks against thousands of Filipinos who work in Hong Kong, mostly as maids.

"This tragedy should not become a conflict of nationalities," the committee said in a statement.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III declared Wednesday a national day of mourning in solidarity with the people of Hong Kong to "share their sorrow," his spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.

With files from the CBC's Anthony Germain, The Associated Press and The Canadian Press