Manila: Philippine President Benigno Aquino III apologised after he was criticised for wearing a smile while talking about the hostage crisis that killed a hostage taker and eight Chinese from Hong Kong in Manila's tourist district last Monday.

"My smile might have been misunderstood. If I have offended certain people, I apologise to them. Obviously there was no joy in attending to that situation," said Aquino yesterday.

It was "an expression of exasperation rather than anything," said Aquino.

Observers said he was also smiling, if not smirking, when he inspected the bullet-stricken tourist bus at the Luneta Park, a bayside area, where a 12-hour hostage crisis occurred after a sacked policeman held 25 mostly Chinese tourists, and called for the clearing of his name from charges of extortion, and his reinstatement to the police force.

Aquino's apology was an apparent response to a certain Jay Rodrigo who said on the web, "You see, our president …. has done nothing but smirk in front of the TV cameras after all that has happened."

Meanwhile, Aquino called for sobriety as his Facebook account was crowded with criticisms and debates, both from the Philippines and Hong Kong.

"We have heard and read a lot of opinions from the public, even from foreigners that were affected [by the incident]," said Aquino, adding, "We ask for their understanding. We are correcting deficiencies that we have noted in the implementation of our operating procedures. None of us wanted this outcome [of the incident]."