• Mon
  • Oct 20, 2014
  • Updated: 8:08pm
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

zvichadashote
Mr. Salinger, did the Hong Kong government apologize to Nepal when HK policeman shot a homeless Nepalese man weilding a chair? That was also a botched reaction by HK police - as bad as the botched rescue attempt by Manila police. Not to speak about the botched rescue by Germany of the Israeli hostages at the 1972 Olympics in Munich. Not only was there no apology, but later Germany FREED the Arab perpetrators who had been jailed in order to free a hijacked Lufthansa plane! Hong Kong, please stop this crazy notion that the Philippine government owes you an apology! The only apology they should make is to their own citizens for having a pathetic police force.
oxymoron11
Why don't you all just leave that poor man alone ! Isn't it hard enough for a man to run a country that is plagued by poverty, desolated by nearly all natural disasters known to men, ruination by corruptions and constantly threatened by coup détat ?
Whatever self-esteem this country has left, it is all mustered into an inflated ego that keeps whatever spirit it has intact. Show pity and don't rob away what little dignity this country has. It's easy to oversee how lucky you are when your belly is full whereas the majority of the population in a country is trying to make ends meet. It's called mercy.
-
Do you slap a toddler when he steps on your toes ? No ! You give him a lollipop in return. Need I elaborate the toddler's mind is not up to par in a reasonable debate in what's right and what's wrong. Quod erat demonstrandum.
OldPeak Toad
CY is not a "poor man", is he?
Ohh, you are not talking about Hong Kong? Ha Ha Ha!
lamlm38
stupidity and incompetence in itself is not a crime!! I watched the whole hostage situation unfolded live on CNN.. i thought Elmer Fudd couldnt have done any worse :)
HK-Lover
2.
It would be appreciated if SCMP would start with investigative and factual articles. SCMP should analyse and report on the political and legal differences between the Taiwanese and the Hong Kong incidents.
This very unfortunate incident was not a states affair of the Republic of Philippines but of an individual city within the country and all responsibility lies with the city's administration. It is on the city's administration represented by its mayor to apologise, take responsibility and offer sensible compensation.
However, the president should ensure that the administrations on a provincial and city level in his country function properly.
All this has hopefully been made clear to the victims and the their families by their lawyers and the HK politicians (some of them being lawyers) who got involved.
That the police force failed miserably was an issue for their ultimate superior, the mayor. And that the mayor obviously failed is not a matter for the president but for the electorate because the mayor is an elected politician.
If a district councillor in HK fails in his job it's not on the Chief Executive to dismiss him but on the electorate. And the electorate in Manila took the consequences and mayor Lim was ousted in the recent election.
JC
I'm not so sure is as simple as that. Aquino was kept fully informed of the rescue plan. And he gave a press conference a few days later.
But yes maybe getting the mayor over to the HK to apologise on behalf of Manila and the Philippines might be a good compromise.
And I'm sure he's wealthy enough to offer a small compensation to the affected families as a nice gesture.
I doubt if the families have any legal recourse on the matter. They would have to depend on the goodwill of Manila, and I think some goodwill is due.
chanaa
' law of the jungle ? ' aquino presides over a population that has more people below the poverty line than entire hk population. He has to deal with lack of infrastructure, floods & earthquakes. Apec is an economic forum, I think apologising to the HKers are least of his priority.
Asean will stand by its neighbours & wont give a **** about what HK thinks.
Oh, yeah, your law of the jungle statement explains exactly what you are.
composer
Oh dear, jandajel sums up the situation well, and Mr Salinger can only lob insults ad hominem. Aquino has nothing to apologise for - a criminal act happens in any country.
I would advise all HongKongers to visit Philippines - a beautiful and safe place with exceptionally friendly people - and I am pleased to see that the planes going there are almost always full.
Drop this prejudiced nonsense and get on with life.
HK-Lover
Your are not correct.
The German chancellor that time, Willy Brandt and minister of foreign affairs, Hans-Dietrich Genscher , both apologised to the people of Israel, the victim's families and Golda Meir, the then prime minister of Israel.
German politicians offered themselves to be exchanged for the hostages but were refused by the terrorists.
Germany took the immediate consequence from the botched rescue and setup the GSG9, today one of the worlds top anti-terrorism units
jd.salinger.3154
Your mental faculties certainly require some fine-tuning. The examples you gave only prove the people of Hong Kong have a better understanding of law and justice to demand what is fair for their case. Nevertheless, I am giving you credit for parroting the word 'pathetic' from my comment before you, unlike @jandajel who basically logged back in and updated an entire paragraph with a phrase I used from my earlier reply to him/her. I now understand how tough a task it is to debate with dopes (pardon my french).

Pages

 
 
 
 
 

Login

SCMP.com Account

or