Call to push Philippines to pay up
Survivors and relatives of victims of last year's Manila hostage bloodbath, their chances of winning compensation through court action diminishing, have called for the Beijing and Hong Kong governments to put diplomatic pressure on the Philippines to pay up.
Their calls came after they approached a Philippine human rights lawyer last month and found that legal claims in the country could be expensive and complicated.
Almost a year after policeman Rolando Mendoza hijacked a tour bus, killing seven Hong Kong tourists and their guide and injuring seven with his M16 rifle before he was shot dead in a bungled rescue operation, survivors and relatives say the Hong Kong government has not done enough to help them seek justice.
Three applied for legal aid yesterday to pursue a claim through Hong Kong courts, while saying they would prefer the government to help them.
'We want to learn more about the stance of the SAR government and how it can offer help to pursue compensation to Hong Kong residents who are injured or died overseas, and their family members,' Tse Chi-kin, elder brother of slain tour guide Masa Tse Ting-chunn, said after filing his application.
'In fact, since the inquest [in March], we have not seen any concrete action by the government.'
Survivors Yik Siu-ling, who was shot in the lower jaw, and Joe Chan Kwok-chu, shot in both hands, also applied for legal aid yesterday with the help of the Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun.
Tse said he had also written to the Chief Executive's Office seeking another meeting with Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen to learn more about the government's stance before he and other survivors set off for Manila on August 21 - two days before the anniversary of the shooting - to pay tribute to other victims and meet senior officials.
Survivors and relatives said after a closed-door meeting with Tsang in March that he had promised them help with a civil claim, but Tsang's office said last night it would be inappropriate for him to intervene in a civil claim. A spokeswoman said the government would continue medical, welfare and educational assistance it was already providing but did not say whether Tsang would help with diplomatic pressure.
She added that Tsang's schedule was full next week and he had instructed the Security Bureau to meet the survivors and relatives.
Tse said they were considering whether to file a lawsuit in the Philippines or in Hong Kong, but To said that it would be very difficult to win if the Philippines claimed state immunity. He said the central and Hong Kong governments should negotiate with the Philippine authorities.