Hong Kong and Manila say hostage case is certainly not behind them
Officials seek to clarify reported remark CY and Aquino had agreed to put the issue behind them
Manila and Hong Kong acted yesterday to allay concerns among Hongkongers after a report claimed the Philippine president, Benigno Aquino, and Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying had "agreed to put behind" them the 2010 Manila hostage tragedy.
The Philippine president's spokesman called the report inaccurate.
The report on the website of the Manila Standard Today also quoted Aquino's spokesman Edwin Lacierda as saying that Beijing's call on Wednesday for the Philippines to resolve the row "came too late" because of this agreement.
Leung said yesterday he had been quoted out of context, while Lacierda said the report on the English-language website had misinterpreted his remarks, made in Tagalog.
The website quoted Lacierda as saying Aquino and Leung had "agreed to put behind" them the incident, in which a sacked policeman shot dead eight Hongkongers and left seven injured.
In an exclusive interview with the Post, Lacierda said the Standard's quote about the agreement was an "incorrect" interpretation for which there was no support.
" 'Put the issue behind' is not my quote," he said. "President Aquino is firm, and shares the same belief with [Leung] that both parties should resolve this."
Lacierda had said only that "China was too late", in Tagalog, "in the sense that [the leaders had] already met" by the time the Chinese foreign ministry issued a statement on Tuesday that the Philippines should pay high attention to the requirements and concerns of the families of the victims.
Leung issued two media statements and held a hastily scheduled hour-long meeting yesterday with representatives of four families involved in the tragedy to clarify the subject of his meeting with Aquino. It was his first such meeting in 13 months.
Tse Chi-kin, elder brother of slain tour guide Masa Tse Ting-chunn, said that the meeting made him feel for the first time in three years the government was "really doing things" to follow up on the 2010 bloodbath.
"The truth and the facts are on our side, so everything we have been demanding is very reasonable," Tse said. The families are seeking a formal apology, compensation, punishment of the officials responsible and measures to ensure tourists' safety.
Leung said President Xi Jinping was very concerned about the issue.
The website's report on Thursday came hours after Premier Li Keqiang urged Aquino, in a brief conversation during the East Asia Summit on Wednesday, to resolve the row as soon as possible.
Leung clarified that in his meeting with Aquino on Monday, he said: "If bilateral relations are to be normalised and if we want to put the hostage tragedy behind us … both sides must work out a suitable solution to resolve this issue and ensure the demands and requests of the victims' relatives are met."
Meanwhile, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, on a visit to Hong Kong next month, plans to ask officials to lift a travel alert warning Hongkongers not to go to the Philippines.