Funeral for Manila bus hostage policeman

Coffin of Rolando Mendoza - Tanuan, 28 August 2010 Pallbearers carried Mendoza's coffin from the church in Tanuan

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About 1,000 people have attended the funeral of a Philippine policeman who killed eight tourists from Hong Kong when he took their bus hostage.

Rolando Mendoza was shot on Monday when Manila police tried to storm the bus.

Mendoza, 55, seized the bus with an assault rifle in an attempt to get back the job he lost in 2009 for extortion and threat-making.

Thousands of people are due to attend a Hong Kong rally on Sunday to protest against the handling of the incident.

In all, 22 Hong Kong tourists were taken hostage along with three Filipinos - a driver, a guide and a photographer.

National flag

Mendoza's son was the only serving police officer to attend the funeral, held in his home town of Tanuan.

Pallbearers carried Mendoza's coffin - his body dressed in his policeman's uniform - out of a church in Tanuan.

Start Quote

The person who deserves a national flag at funeral should be someone of heroism, decency and integrity, not someone who inflicts atrocity on innocent lives”

End Quote Chinese embassy statement

At a vigil before the funeral service, Mendoza's many decorations from nearly three decades of police service were displayed.

His coffin was draped in the Philippines national flag, a move criticised by the Chinese embassy in Manila.

"The person who deserves a national flag at funeral should be someone of heroism, decency and integrity, not someone who inflicts atrocity on innocent lives," the Chinese Embassy said in a statement.

Meanwhile, organisers of the Hong Kong rally hope as many as 50,000 will attend, in what politicians are billing as a cross-party rally for both pro-Beijing and opposition groups.

"The main theme is to express our condolences to those who died in this tragedy and call on the Philippine government to conduct a full, fair and independent investigation," Albert Ho, chairman of Hong Kong's Democratic Party, told AFP news agency.

Philippine groups are staging a day-long event nearby with a candlelight vigil in the early evening.

Philippine vice consul Val Roque said text messages had been sent to members of the estimated 200,000-strong Philippine community asking them to "set aside what they are doing" and attend memorial masses on Sunday.

"The masses are the Filipino community's way to express their grief and sympathy in relation to the tragedy in Manila," he told AFP.

Survivors and experts have criticised the Manila police for being indecisive and slow in their handling of the crisis.

During early negotiations, nine people were freed from the bus and the driver fled to safety, leaving 15 hostages on board.

But as the hostage crisis went on, Mendoza became agitated, posting signs with his demands on the windows of the bus - the main one being for the police force to reinstate him.

The police made several unsuccessful attempts to board the bus, before marksmen eventually shot and killed Mendoza.

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