ERAP's APOLOGY ENDS HK-PHL TENSION OVER HOSTAGES CRISIS

The Hong Kong government on Wednesday announced the resolution of the 2010 Manila hostage crisis following the apology of former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada. In a post on its site, the Hong Kong said that the demands made by the victims and their families have been met by the Philippine government. "The Hong Kong and Philippine governments have agreed to resolve the 2010 Manila hostage tragedy," it said. "The four demands made by the victims and their families for an apology, compensation, sanctions against responsible officials and individuals, and tourist safety measures, will be settled," the statement added. The sanctions were dropped as part of the negotiations. Manila has expressed its "most sorrowful regret and profound sympathy" over the incident, which led to diplomatic sanctions on Philippine officials whose privilege of 14-day, visa-free access to Hong Kong was scrapped last February. Philippine National Police chief Director General Alan Purisima has also sent a written letter of regret to the victims and their families. Hong Kong also welcomed the Philippines' assurance that it will hold responsible those behind the botched police rescue operation that led to the death of eight Hong Kong tourists in Rizal Park. On Tuesday, Estrada flew to Hong Kong in a bid to repair broken ties with Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

ALSO: Palace says, No HK apology, just regret

APRIL 25 -The Philippine government did not issue an apology to Hong Kong over the Rizal Park hostage crisis in 2010 that left eight tourists dead, a Malacañang official said yesterday. Secretary to the Cabinet Jose Rene Almendras said this was in line and consistent with the instructions of President Aquino, who from the start refused to extend apologies over the tragic incident. Almendras said Hong Kong’s lifting of its travel sanctions against Filipino public officials was actually a product of continued dialogues between the two parties that started in the October 2013 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Bali, Indonesia. Almendras said the letter signed by Philippine National Police chief Director General Alan Purisima was carefully crafted, with the help of Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and Palace Undersecretary Manolo Quezon III, among others. One crucial phrase the Aquino administration used was “sorrowful regret and sympathy,” which obviously satisfied the most vocal among Hong Kong lawmakers who stood beside Chief Executive CY Leung in Wednesday’s press conference. “He said the term ‘sorrowful regret and sympathy’ he deemed already as (more) acceptable than the original one. So that is the word that was used,” Almendras said, referring to Leung. “If you take the words in a technical context they may not be enough but if you put them in the perspective of all the other things that happened, that’s how it became more acceptable,” he said. READ MORE...

ALSO: HK accepts PH regret over 2010 hostage crisis

The bitter conflict with Hong Kong over the Manila hostage crisis in 2010 has been resolved with the national government offering its “sorrowful regret and sympathy” for the hostage incident, which the families of the victims have accepted, according to Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras. The families have accepted the government’s regret for the hostage crisis as well as its actions to prevent the incident from happening again, Almendras said. The Philippines and Hong Kong resolved the conflict arising from the hostage crisis after the demands of the families, including tokens of solidarity as well as tourist safety measures, were met. The agreement was reached following a closed-door meeting among Philippine and Hong Kong officials as well as families of the victims. The Philippine team included Almendras and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada. “Did I apologize for President Aquino? I did not say anything to that effect but I expressed certain emotions and certain things relative to that. But it was not an outright (apology),” Almendras said in a Malacañang press briefing. “I have no authority to say ‘I am sorry on behalf of the Republic of the Philippines’ but we made sure that we addressed the issues,” said Almendras, the President’s pointman in fixing the country’s relations with Hong Kong. Erap’s Role Cited -Almendras expressed gratitude to the entire Philippine team that facilitated the resolution of the conflict, particularly citing the key role of former President Estrada. READ MORE...

ALSO: Erap: Hong Kong assured OFWs will be protected

Former president and now Manila City Mayor Joseph Estrada said the strained relations between the Philippines and Hong Kong are now back to normal since his apology over the hostage tragedy in 2010 has been accepted by officials there. In a phone-patch interview on ANC, Estrada described the result of his efforts as a "very, very fruitful and successful resolution of the case." "I apologized to them (Hong Kong officials) in behalf of the city council, myself as mayor, and the people of Manila over that unfortunate incident," Estrada told ANC. Estrada said with the resolution of the tragedy, Hong Kong's black travel alert against the Philippines has been downgraded to amber. The Manila mayor said he was also told by Hong Kong officials that the safety of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) there will be guaranteed "They assured me that even all our OFWs here in Hong Kong will be protected," Estrada said. In response, Estrada said all Hong Kong tourists and businessmen in Manila will be ensured under his watch as city mayor.

ALSO: China reacts to Erap's Hong Kong trip

China gave a neutral response when asked about Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada's trip to Hong Kong to apologize to families of victims of the hostage crisis in 2010. In a press conference on Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Qin Gang said that China has long demanded for an apology and compensation to families and survivors of the botched police rescue operation at Rizal Park. "Since this hostage incident took place several years ago, the Chinese government has been urging the Philippine side to earnestly respond to the legitimate and lawful demands of the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the relatives of the victims," Qin said. Qin added that Beijing has wanted Manila to "properly handle relevant issues as soon as possible." Eight Hong Kong tourists died in the incident. Disgruntled Philippine National Police officer Rolando Mendoza who hijacked the tourist bus was killed by snipers. READ MORE...

ALSO: Reasons why the Philippines won't apologize to Hong Kong

FEBRUARY 2013 --The Aquino administration is adamant in its refusal to formally apologize to Hong Kong over the Manila hostage crisis in 2010, saying the the Philippines' expression of regret is enough. The issue is brought to the fore anew following Hong Kong's termination of Philippine officials' 14-day visa-free access. Ordinary Filipinos, meanwhile, are spared from the diplomatic sanctions which take effect starting Wednesday, but some observers say that the Chinese city can still impose further penalties if demands continue to be ignored by the government. But why does the government refuse to apologize for the botched police rescue attempt at Quirino Grandstand? In an interview with The New York Times on Tuesday, President Benigno Aquino III said a formal apology from him would create a legal liability for Manila. China, for its part, had neither compensated Filipino families left by victims who have died in past years' incidents in the mainland, he said. Aquino's statement somewhat confirms a senior Beijing diplomat's views as reported by the South China Morning Post. "(President Aquino) is afraid that once he makes an apology, the Hong Kong victims' families, who also have a strong legal sense, will take action to sue the government for misconduct and seek compensation. That would be a big burden for a poor country," the senior diplomat, who requested anonymity, said. "President Aquino has a strong sense of legal awareness because many of his officials are lawyers," he added. READ MORE...

EDITORIAL: Placating Hong Kong

The diplomatic row with Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China, was finally resolved after senior government officials from the Philippines and the former British colony agreed on four basic demands. The deal may not be enough to heal the wounds quickly, but it signals the start of normalizing the relations between Hong Kong and the Philippines. A relative of one of those killed in the August 2010 incident suggested it was time to move on. “I can’t say whether I’m happy with the result or the wordings [of the statement] but I’m glad this has all come to an end,” says Tse Chi- kin, brother of Hong Kong tour guide Masa Tse Ting-chunn. “If we continue to dwell on this incident there will be negative impact on multiple parties, so we have finally accepted this arrangement.” Hong Kong and Manila agreed on an official apology, compensation, sanctions against responsible individuals and tourist safety measures. Hong Kong immediately lifted the diplomatic sanctions it imposed on the  Philippines after former President and incumbent Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, along with Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras, met with Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to offer official apologies for the incident. Hong Kong and its citizens vented their ire on the Philippines for the latter’s weak response to the incident, in which a former police officer hijacked a tour bus in protest of his termination from the police force. A bungled rescue effort by Philippine security forces resulted in the killing of eight tourists from Hong Kong and the wounding of seven others. For the Philippines, the incident was a wake-up call as it exposed its inability to protect foreign tourists from harm. The live coverage of the incident also showed the poor and inadequate training of security forces in handling crisis situations. The government of President Aquino should have learned its lessons from the embarrassing episode. The Philippines needs more professional policemen to deal with such situations and largely a more authoritative government to defuse them.THIS IS THE FULL ARTICLE


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Erap's apology ends HK-Phl tension over hostage crisis


Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada arrives at Hong Kong international airport Tuesday, April 22, 2014. Estrada flew to Hong Kong Tuesday to apologize to the families of eight Hong Kong tourists who were killed in a mishandled hostage taking in 2010 which soured relations between the Philippines and Hong Kong. AP/Kin Cheung

MANILA, APRIL 28, 2014 (PHILSTAR)  By Camille Diola - The Hong Kong government on Wednesday announced the resolution of the 2010 Manila hostage crisis following the apology of former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada.

In a post on its site, the Hong Kong said that the demands made by the victims and their families have been met by the Philippine government.

"The Hong Kong and Philippine governments have agreed to resolve the 2010 Manila hostage tragedy," it said.

"The four demands made by the victims and their families for an apology, compensation, sanctions against responsible officials and individuals, and tourist safety measures, will be settled," the statement added.

The sanctions were dropped as part of the negotiations.

Manila has expressed its "most sorrowful regret and profound sympathy" over the incident, which led to diplomatic sanctions on Philippine officials whose privilege of 14-day, visa-free access to Hong Kong was scrapped last February.

Philippine National Police chief Director General Alan Purisima has also sent a written letter of regret to the victims and their families.

Hong Kong also welcomed the Philippines' assurance that it will hold responsible those behind the botched police rescue operation that led to the death of eight Hong Kong tourists in Rizal Park.

On Tuesday, Estrada flew to Hong Kong in a bid to repair broken ties with Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

He said he was scheduled to meet with Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung to express his apologies in behalf of the Philippine government.

Estrada also offered "additional tokens of solidarity" as a form of compensation to the victims.

No HK apology, just regret – Almendras By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 25, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


Secretary to the Aquino Cabinet Jose Rene Almendras

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine government did not issue an apology to Hong Kong over the Rizal Park hostage crisis in 2010 that left eight tourists dead, a Malacañang official said yesterday.

Secretary to the Cabinet Jose Rene Almendras said this was in line and consistent with the instructions of President Aquino, who from the start refused to extend apologies over the tragic incident.

Almendras said Hong Kong’s lifting of its travel sanctions against Filipino public officials was actually a product of continued dialogues between the two parties that started in the October 2013 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Bali, Indonesia.

Almendras said the letter signed by Philippine National Police chief Director General Alan Purisima was carefully crafted, with the help of Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and Palace Undersecretary Manolo Quezon III, among others.

One crucial phrase the Aquino administration used was “sorrowful regret and sympathy,” which obviously satisfied the most vocal among Hong Kong lawmakers who stood beside Chief Executive CY Leung in Wednesday’s press conference.

“He said the term ‘sorrowful regret and sympathy’ he deemed already as (more) acceptable than the original one. So that is the word that was used,” Almendras said, referring to Leung.

“If you take the words in a technical context they may not be enough but if you put them in the perspective of all the other things that happened, that’s how it became more acceptable,” he said.

Almendras said there was one reporter from Hong Kong who remarked that it was not an apology but was prevailed upon after learning that the family of the victims had accepted it.

He nonetheless issued a verbal apology, with the reminder that a national apology is farfetched. “I issued the apology. I explained to them the complex nature of a national apology and an apology from the President. We discussed many options,” he related.

“Did I apologize for President Aquino? I did not say anything to that effect but I expressed certain emotions and certain things relative to that but it was not an outright (apology)… I have no authority to say: I am sorry in behalf of the Republic of the Philippines,” he said.

Almendras also thanked former president and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada for helping the national government arrive at a mutually acceptable solution to the issue that has continued to strain diplomatic relations.

Emotions of the 21 different families have been very challenging, according to Almendras, because dealing with all of them was in itself very stressful, aside from the fact that they were in discussions with Hong Kong officials.

Almendras refused to say how much the Philippine government gave to each of the families, noting that not all of them accepted the “token of solidarity” they gave since they know too well that no amount of money can be equivalent to a human life.

He also justified the government’s decision to keep the negotiations under wraps for several months so as not to ignite further the emotions and sentiments of the victims.

“It is therefore very important that we did not speak too much out of respect for the sensitivity of the families and this is why we could not say anything to anyone until such time,” Almendras said.

Estrada, for his part, said he had a very long meeting all afternoon with Hong Kong officials.

“I guess we were just lucky,” he said.

“Not only bilateral ties with Hong Kong were restored but also our trade and business relations resume to full blast again,” Estrada said

He said the Manila city government and the Philippines did not spend a single centavo to compensate the victims.

“Not a single cent from state funds of the national government nor from the coffers of the city government of Manila. It’s all private donations that we gave to the victims,” Estrada said.

Lawmakers hailed Estrada for his initiative to extend apologies to the families of the victims in Hong Kong.

They also welcomed the lifting of travel sanctions by Hong Kong.

Albay Rep. Al Francis Bichara said the lifting of sanctions would mean relief for Filipinos working in Hong Kong even if they are not officially covered by actions against the Philippines prior to the apology.

Valenzuela Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian said it was “plain and simple classic diplomacy” that finally put to bed the bitter row between the Philippines and Hong Kong.

“The initiative and joint effort of the Philippine mission is unprecedented and laudable. We have to credit the classic diplomacy that Mayor Estrada and Secretary Almendras engaged in consciously fulfilling the conditions that Hong Kong and the families of the victims were seeking to achieve an equilibrium in pursuing goodwill,” Gatchalian said.

He said Estrada – being a former Philippine president – was able to find common ground when he brought with him a national-level official to Hong Kong to personally apologize and extend their “sorrowful regret” to the families of the victims and the Hong Kong government. – Paolo Romero, Jose Rodel Clapano

FROM MANILA BULLETIN


(L-R) Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, Philippine Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras, Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and Director of the Chief Executive’s Office Edward Yau Tang-wah pose during a meeting with regards to the 2010 Manila hostage incident at the Chief Executive’s Office in Hong Kong April 23, 2014. Hong Kong on Wednesday scrapped travel sanctions against the Philippines after Manila offered an apology and compensation for a hostage tragedy almost four years ago, settling a lengthy diplomatic spat between the two. REUTERS/Government Information Services Handout

HK accepts PH regret over 2010 hostage crisis by Genalyn Kabiling April 25, 2014 (updated)

The bitter conflict with Hong Kong over the Manila hostage crisis in 2010 has been resolved with the national government offering its “sorrowful regret and sympathy” for the hostage incident, which the families of the victims have accepted, according to Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras.

The families have accepted the government’s regret for the hostage crisis as well as its actions to prevent the incident from happening again, Almendras said.

The Philippines and Hong Kong resolved the conflict arising from the hostage crisis after the demands of the families, including tokens of solidarity as well as tourist safety measures, were met. The agreement was reached following a closed-door meeting among Philippine and Hong Kong officials as well as families of the victims. The Philippine team included Almendras and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada.

“Did I apologize for President Aquino? I did not say anything to that effect but I expressed certain emotions and certain things relative to that. But it was not an outright (apology),” Almendras said in a Malacañang press briefing.

“I have no authority to say ‘I am sorry on behalf of the Republic of the Philippines’ but we made sure that we addressed the issues,” said Almendras, the President’s pointman in fixing the country’s relations with Hong Kong.

Erap’s Role Cited

Almendras expressed gratitude to the entire Philippine team that facilitated the resolution of the conflict, particularly citing the key role of former President Estrada.

Apart from the letter of regret sent by Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima to each of the families of the victims, Almendras said Estrada presented a city council resolution expressing apology for the incident. Estrada had made an apology in 2013 upon his election as mayor of Manila.

Asked why Estrada’s apology was accepted this time, Almendras conceded that the delivery and the tone are equally important to the message.

Almendras also thanked the Hong Kong panel involved in the discussion to iron out the conflict.

“We had good times, we had a lot of tough times, but in the end we came across. And I would like to acknowledge their professionalism,” he said.

Almendras said President Benigno S. Aquino III was “very happy” to learn that the Philippines and Hong Kong have resolved their differences regarding the hostage incident. He said the government now looks forward to the “beginning of a new journey” of normalized relations with Hong Kong.

“I’m sure with all the problems we have, every single solution, however small the problem is, if you solve it, it is one less thing to worry about,” Almendras said.

The Philippines and Hong Kong have agreed to put the bitter row behind them after demands for apology and compensation to families of the victims, among other matters, were addressed. Hong Kong Chief Executive C.Y. Leung announced that they would lift the travel sanctions against the Philippines, including a visa arrangement for holders of official passports.

Almendras said Leung also extended his thanks to President Aquino and called him a “man of his word.” The Hong Kong leader also looks forward to “shaking the hands” of the Philippine president during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit later this year, he added.

He said the individual concerns of the families of victims varied. The families have different concerns and demands in order to attain closure and move on. Not all families will accept tokens of solidarity for a number of reasons, he added.

Positive Dev’t For OFWs

Senators welcomed Hong Kong’s move to lift the sanctions it imposed against Philippine authorities after accepting a formal apology Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada extended to HK officials. Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito said, this is a positive development for the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) based in Hong Kong, most of whom are working as domestic helpers.

Sen. Ma. Lourdes “Nancy” Binay said, “I share the joy with the Filipino people and the thousands of migrant workers in Hong Kong in celebrating the good news as the Hong Kong SAR government finally accepted the formal apology extended by former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada on behalf of the City of Manila to the families of the victims of the unfortunate incident in August 2010.”

In the House of Representatives, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. extended his felicitations and gratitude to Mayor Estrada for assisting the government in putting closure to the the 2010 hostage crisis.

AKO Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe, a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said he sees smooth sailing for free trade negotiations between the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Hong Kong.

Bungled Rescue Operation

At least eight Chinese nationals were killed while seven others were wounded in the bungled rescue operation when a former local police officer who was dismissed hijacked a tourist bus in 2010.

In a statement, the Hong Kong government said the four demands made by the victims and their families – an apology, compensation, sanctions against responsible officials and individuals, and tourist safety measures – will be resolved and settled.

Reports said the Philippine government will provide a total of HK$20 million in a compensation package for those who were injured and HK$1.5 million for each of the deceased. (With reports from Hannah L. Torregoza and Charissa M. Luci)

Erap: Hong Kong assured OFWs will be protected By Louis Bacani (philstar.com) | Updated April 23, 2014 - 6:20pm 6 33 googleplus0 0


File photo of Manila City Mayor Joseph "Erap" Estrada. B. Batuigas

MANILA, Philippines — Former president and now Manila City Mayor Joseph Estrada said the strained relations between the Philippines and Hong Kong are now back to normal since his apology over the hostage tragedy in 2010 has been accepted by officials there.

In a phone-patch interview on ANC, Estrada described the result of his efforts as a "very, very fruitful and successful resolution of the case."

"I apologized to them (Hong Kong officials) in behalf of the city council, myself as mayor, and the people of Manila over that unfortunate incident," Estrada told ANC.

Estrada said with the resolution of the tragedy, Hong Kong's black travel alert against the Philippines has been downgraded to amber.

The Manila mayor said he was also told by Hong Kong officials that the safety of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) there will be guaranteed

"They assured me that even all our OFWs here in Hong Kong will be protected," Estrada said.

In response, Estrada said all Hong Kong tourists and businessmen in Manila will be ensured under his watch as city mayor.

"Gagawin namin ang lahat ng magagawa... all Hong Kong tourists will be protected, not only in Manila but in the whole country," Estrada said.

The former president said he told the Hong Kong government is a joint effort by the Manila government and the national government as represented by Secretary to the Cabinet Jose Rene Almendras.

Estrada flew to Hong Kong on Tuesday to apologize to the families of eight Hong Kong tourists who were killed in a mishandled hostage taking in 2010.

He earlier told ANC that he will also offer some sort of compensation worth around 20 million Hong Kong dollars or over P110 million for the victims of the tragedy.

China reacts to Erap's Hong Kong trip Camille Diola | Updated Wednesday April 23, 2014 - 9:55am SHARE THIS: 0 0 Google +0 0

MANILA, Philippines - China gave a neutral response when asked about Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada's trip to Hong Kong to apologize to families of victims of the hostage crisis in 2010.

In a press conference on Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Qin Gang said that China has long demanded for an apology and compensation to families and survivors of the botched police rescue operation at Rizal Park.

"Since this hostage incident took place several years ago, the Chinese government has been urging the Philippine side to earnestly respond to the legitimate and lawful demands of the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the relatives of the victims," Qin said.

Qin added that Beijing has wanted Manila to "properly handle relevant issues as soon as possible."

Eight Hong Kong tourists died in the incident. Disgruntled Philippine National Police officer Rolando Mendoza who hijacked the tourist bus was killed by snipers.

On Tuesday, Estrada flew to Hong Kong purportedly to meet with Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung.

"I am apologizing because it happened in Manila. In behalf of the people of Manila, the city council and myself extend our apology for the unfortunate incident more than three years ago," the former president said.

President Benigno Aquino III, however, remained adamant in refusing to apologize to the Chinese state as it brings within it legal liabilities.

Hong Kong earlier this year terminated Philippine officials' 14-day visa-free access. Ordinary Filipinos, however, are spared from the diplomatic sanctions.

Reasons why the Philippines won't apologize to Hong Kong By Camille Diola (philstar.com) | Updated February 5, 2014 - 1:02pm 165 3443 googleplus0 0


President Benigno Aquino III

MANILA, Philippines - The Aquino administration is adamant in its refusal to formally apologize to Hong Kong over the Manila hostage crisis in 2010, saying the the Philippines' expression of regret is enough.

The issue is brought to the fore anew following Hong Kong's termination of Philippine officials' 14-day visa-free access. Ordinary Filipinos, meanwhile, are spared from the diplomatic sanctions which take effect starting Wednesday, but some observers say that the Chinese city can still impose further penalties if demands continue to be ignored by the government.

But why does the government refuse to apologize for the botched police rescue attempt at Quirino Grandstand?

In an interview with The New York Times on Tuesday, President Benigno Aquino III said a formal apology from him would create a legal liability for Manila.

China, for its part, had neither compensated Filipino families left by victims who have died in past years' incidents in the mainland, he said.

Aquino's statement somewhat confirms a senior Beijing diplomat's views as reported by the South China Morning Post.

"(President Aquino) is afraid that once he makes an apology, the Hong Kong victims' families, who also have a strong legal sense, will take action to sue the government for misconduct and seek compensation. That would be a big burden for a poor country," the senior diplomat, who requested anonymity, said.

"President Aquino has a strong sense of legal awareness because many of his officials are lawyers," he added.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) stressed that the Philippines is a "sovereign nation" and is not prepared to consider Hong Kong government's demands upon revival of the negotiations.

"Our Nation has already expressed its deepest regret and condolences over the incident and we are preparing to reiterate this," Foreign Affairs assistant secretary Raul Hernandez said.

DFA also feels the issue has met "substantive closure" three years ago before the administration of current Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-ying.

"A renewed appeal for compassion was directly made to our government last October 2013. We responded to this appeal without equivocation and in a most generous manner," Hernandez said.

Hong Kong's demands

The expired deadline for the Philippines to meet the demands of the Hong Kong body and the victims led to the imposition of visas.

Leung said that Manila has not expressed any desire to extend the deadline, signifying that it has no plans to grant the following:

Filipino businessmen, however, have donated huge sums for the Hong Kong families "as a manifestation of the Filipinos' humane consideration of the plight of victims."

Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras flew to the Chinese region in November to hand over the amount to Yik Siu Ling, one of the survivors.

Yik needed an urgent survey that would cost P2.28 million--the first payout from the Philippines in connection with the 2010 tragedy.

Hernandez added that further recompense is being extended to the families of the victims.

"To bring the issue to its final conclusion, the Philippines remains committed to manifest compassion for the victims and their families and is ready to turn over the additional tokens of solidarity from the Filipino people," Hernandez said.

"We hope that we will be able to do this as soon as possible," he added.

FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

Placating Hong Kong By Manila Standard Today | Apr. 25, 2014 at 12:01am

The diplomatic row with Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China, was finally resolved after senior government officials from the Philippines and the former British colony agreed on four basic demands. The deal may not be enough to heal the wounds quickly, but it signals the start of normalizing the relations between Hong Kong and the Philippines.

A relative of one of those killed in the August 2010 incident suggested it was time to move on. “I can’t say whether I’m happy with the result or the wordings [of the statement] but I’m glad this has all come to an end,” says Tse Chi- kin, brother of Hong Kong tour guide Masa Tse Ting-chunn. “If we continue to dwell on this incident there will be negative impact on multiple parties, so we have finally accepted this arrangement.”

Hong Kong and Manila agreed on an official apology, compensation, sanctions against responsible individuals and tourist safety measures. Hong Kong immediately lifted the diplomatic sanctions it imposed on the Philippines after former President and incumbent Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, along with Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras, met with Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to offer official apologies for the incident.

Hong Kong and its citizens vented their ire on the Philippines for the latter’s weak response to the incident, in which a former police officer hijacked a tour bus in protest of his termination from the police force. A bungled rescue effort by Philippine security forces resulted in the killing of eight tourists from Hong Kong and the wounding of seven others.

For the Philippines, the incident was a wake-up call as it exposed its inability to protect foreign tourists from harm. The live coverage of the incident also showed the poor and inadequate training of security forces in handling crisis situations.

The government of President Aquino should have learned its lessons from the embarrassing episode. The Philippines needs more professional policemen to deal with such situations and largely a more authoritative government to defuse them.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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