• Thu
  • Nov 27, 2014
  • Updated: 10:53am
CommentInsight & Opinion
LEADER

Aquino should apologise for Manila bus tragedy

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 October, 2013, 6:31am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 October, 2013, 6:31am

Philippine president Benigno Aquino has made plain he is not going to apologise for the Manila bus tragedy. Yet there is every reason he should do so, both on moral grounds and to get relations with his country and Hong Kong back on track. Pan-democrat politicians have suggested all manner of ideas to force his hand, but the proposals are either mere politicking or would fail due to our city's lack of leverage. Beijing's welcome intervention offers a real chance, though.

Premier Li Keqiang entered the fray at the East Asia Summit, urging Aquino to quickly resolve the three-year-old stand-off. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and the Philippine leader agreed official-level talks would resume soon. There have since been conflicting statements by Aquino and others in his administration, giving the impression that Manila lacks the resolve to bring closure to the victims and their families. The president clearly has that ability, though. The apology to Taiwan for the shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman in disputed waters by the Philippine coastguard in May is ample proof.

Taiwan was able to force the apology because of the Philippines' strong trade, tourism and employment links to the island. The threat of sanctions was enough to make Aquino break his silence. But Hong Kong, having less than one-third the population, is not in so powerful a position. Suggestions such as that made by the radical People Power party, which has called for the banning of the 160,000 Filipino domestic helpers in Hong Kong, are not helpful. Years would pass before it could take effect and employers as well as the maids and the families they support at home would suffer.

Boycotting Philippine products - Hong Kong is the fourth-biggest importer - is similarly unwise due to the disruption of supply chains. Working with Beijing to pressure Aquino to see reason would be more effective. China is the Philippines' third-largest trading partner and it has ever-growing levels of tourism and investment. The importance of China to the Philippines means the country cannot do without the relationship.

The Manila police gravely mishandled attempts to end the hijacking of the tour bus by a former colleague. On live television, we watched their incompetence lead to a shoot-out that left eight of the group dead and seven injured. Justice and compensation are the least that could be expected. If Aquino does not act responsibly and apologise, the best hope of changing his mind lies with Beijing.

Share

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
29

This article is now closed to comments

alpot_scmp
Taiwan case is different. The death of the fisherman is caused by a individual who at that time working as an officer of the Philippine govt. therefore in effect the death is caused by the Philippine govt. In Hong Kong's case the deaths are caused by a lone gunman.
Besides if they appologize they will be starting a bad precedent. What if a tourist got robbed or kidnapped and outcome did not turn out well? Then every tourist can demand an appology or compensation from the Philippine govt.
jandajel
alpot_scmp is spot on regarding the difference between the Taiwan fisherman case and the Hong Kong tourist case. The dude who whacked the tourists from HK was not working for the Philippine government when he did his whacking. People like jd.salinger.3154 are poorly educated if they can not understand this subtle but important difference. I guess Hong Kong is such a "rich" city (not country) that a large number of its people have nothing better to do for 3 years than to harp on about demanding an apology from the Philippine government in order to prove HK's superiority.
Question for jd.salinger.3154 and people who think like him/her: Does the HK government formally apologize and compensate domestic workers from the Philippines every time one of them gets raped or otherwise abused by their employer?
chanaa
no they shoud not. we dont see the US fire dept apologising for the asiana chinese student death. We dont see kenya apologising for the mall massacre. Heck, we dont even see CY apologising for the Lamma tragedy.
so really, HK, get real & get over your superiority complex
KwunTongBypass
When is the owner of Lamma IV, a substandard vessel, equipped with substandard navigation and safety equipment, and operated following substandard procedures going to publicly apologize? Or are you all too chicken to ask?
captam
When are the Hong Kong media going to apologize for their irresponsibility in televising live the tragedy and turning the whole sad episode into a media circus?
The bright floodlights and cameras agitated the deranged gunman even more. The media bear some of the responsibility for the outcome of this bungled rescue operation. I have seen no public apology for this behaviour.
john.lone.75
Chinese should apologise to Tibetans and Ughurs for all the mis-treated and must return lands (Tibet and Xinjiang) back to rightful owners.
JC
Why must doing right be compared to the lowest common denominator practised elsewhere? I am neither a Hongkonger or a Filipino, and as an impartial observer of the events that unfolded on TV that fateful day 3 years ago, as well as how Aquino had a smirk on his face - including a faint smile - during a press conference on the matter, I think the least the President can do is admit the ****-ups of his regime, and apologise. What's worse, some members of the police force as well as schoolchildren even took pictures of themselves smiling in front of the tragic scene days after. What rubbish is that? If the Philippines was forced to apologise to the Taiwanese for another recent ****-up by its armed forces, what's holding it back from apologising to Hong Kong, and above all, families of the victims? Whether or not Hong Kong has a superiority complex is not the point, but by denying facts and pretending that you are right and implicitly superior when you are clearly not, does it really make the Philippines any better compared to Hong Kong? No need to get all chauvinistic and defensive here. Get real.The challenge for Aquino now is how to apologise without losing face in front of his own people. Hong Kong would do well to help him here, by not pushing him to the corner, such as boorish behaviour by those journalists at APEC who were clearly out to ambush and embarass him. Grow up and get this tragic event out of the way of good relations.
jd.salinger.3154
No. The Hong Kong media has nothing to apologize for, they seem to be the only people around who are arguing for justice and the rule of law to protect ordinary and vulnerable travelers. This is to the benefit to all travelers in the region. Please set your priorities straight.
jd.salinger.3154
Please keep your lousy argument to your poorly educated self. This is not the goddamn Middle Ages. Aquino should know better what is favorable for his citizens and any potential visitor to his country in this century.
HK-Lover
1.
It's saddening that readers cannot discuss matters in a sensible and rational way but attacking others who express their opinion freely on a very low moral level with personal attacks . Stick to the topic and to the facts and respect other's opinion.

Pages

Login

SCMP.com Account

or