Security Bureau presses Manila on siege demands
Officials vow to pursue the matter as survivors and families prepare to sue over 2010 shootings
The Security Bureau has expressed disappointment with its Philippine counterpart for failing to respond to demands made by families and survivors of the bungled hostage rescue aboard a Manila tour bus three years ago.
That came after a spokesman for the Philippine president told local media his government had already apologised and that Hong Kong should lift its warning against travel to the country. A black alert - meaning tourists face a severe threat in the country and should avoid travelling there - has been in place since the bus siege in August 2010.
"We have expressed very deep regret over the incident," Edwin Lacierda, presidential spokesman for Benigno Aquino, told TVB yesterday.
Lacierda said Manila had made many changes to improve visitor safety since the incident.
When asked why Manila apologised to Taiwan three months after the fatal shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman, Lacierda said the situations were "very different". "We never sent a government representative to Taiwan because we do not have political relations with Taiwan," he said. "And we recognise the importance of maintaining our relationship with China."
But a Security Bureau spokesman said the four demands of families and survivors of the Manila hostage crisis "were not properly met".
The families and survivors are demanding a formal government apology, compensation, that officials be held accountable over their handling of the crisis, and guarantees for travellers' safety.
They said they would sue the Philippines if it did not meet their demands by Friday, the third anniversary of the incident in which eight Hongkongers were killed by a sacked policeman who hijacked a tour bus.
The Security Bureau spokesman said the government would try to pursue the matter through various channels. He added that former Premier Wen Jiabao asked the Philippines to address the Hongkongers' demands during a visit in 2011.
At a public meeting on Sunday, the family of one of the victims accused Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying of failing to act to secure an apology. Leung had promised that he would use all means possible to advance the families' claims.