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  • Dec 26, 2014
  • Updated: 12:44am
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MANILA HOSTAGE TRAGEDY

'I'm not visiting Hong Kong to apologise for bus siege' says Philippine minister

Philippine justice minister says she has no plan to brief families on bus siege killings, and Aquino has not spoken to her about rumoured trip

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 October, 2013, 10:18am

The Philippine Justice Secretary has denied she has any plan to come to Hong Kong to apologise for a bungled rescue mission during a bus siege three years ago that left eight Hongkongers dead.

Leila De Lima told reporters in Manila yesterday that she was never instructed by President Benigno Aquino to make the official apology that has been sought by the Hong Kong government.

It had been reported that Aquino agreed to send De Lima to Hong Kong yesterday to brief victims' families on the judicial process and status of their cases.

"There is no truth to the rumour that I will go to Hong Kong [yesterday]. It's kind of strange this rumour went the rounds because in the first place the president has not talked to me about it," De Lima told the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper.

Philippine presidential office spokeswoman Abigail Valte told the Post: "Secretary De Lima says she is waiting for further instructions from the president."

Aquino earlier insisted he would make no apology, saying the lone gunman was to blame. Seven Hong Kong tourists and their guide were killed and several others hurt when fired Manila policeman Rolando Mendoza took them hostage at gunpoint on their tour bus in the Philippine capital. A bungled rescue saw the gunman shot dead by police.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party said yesterday that the government should suspend all exchanges with, and put an embargo on products from, the Philippines to increase the city's bargaining power ahead of an upcoming ministerial meeting.

It comes after radical pan-democratic party People Power earlier said it would seek a law revision to ban Filipino domestic helpers from working in the city in an effort to force Manila's hand on the issue.

Yesterday, the Democratic Party said it could take at least two years to introduce the ban, and it would have little effect on the current situation.

The party instead wants the government to impose economic sanctions on the Philippines to press for a resolution that could include compensation and a formal apology from Manila.

"The Hong Kong government needs more bargaining power before it starts negotiating with Philippine officials," lawmaker Sin Chung-kai said.

The party called on the government to suspend all interaction with Manila, including trade talks and cultural exchanges, and to stop buying products from the country indefinitely.

It also called for a wider boycott of Philippine goods and for all business and cultural links to be suspended.

Party member and district councillor Henry Chai Man-hon said Hong Kong was the Philippines' seventh-largest trading partner, but it was 18th among countries doing trade with Hong Kong. "Sanctions would have a bigger impact on the Philippines than on Hong Kong," Chai said.

But one of the survivors of the tragedy, Lee Ying-chuen, said she did not want Filipino maids in Hong Kong to be used as scapegoats in the saga, adding that they had contributed a lot to the city.

Liberal Party chairwoman Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee suggested that all Hongkongers write to Aquino, demanding an apology.

 

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This article is now closed to comments

andreaswagner
There's absolutely no reason to apologize for anything. I am surprised that this idea ever came up. Tragic things happen everywhere, it is part of life. Time to move on. You would think Hong Kong has more important things to do. :)
don67
True tragic things happen everywhere, everyday. But it is also the responsibility of the authorities of that country to respond to the crisis in a competent manner. Having said that, once they have responded reasonably and competently, people must also accept that things don't always turn out how we want them to. In this instance though, I think it's safe to say most reasonable people do not think it was handled competently. The Philippines therefore should at least apologise for the way the incident was handled.
chuchu59
I respectfully disagree. It was a bungled rescue operation by a group of amateurs.Its quite obvious that the gunman was antagonised by the capture of his brother and this was the triggering point where he fired at the victims. I understand that most Governments would not be willing to apologise for 'saving face' reasons but it was due to their incompetence that this tragedy occured. This is an important issue for the families of the victims though I do have a sneaking feelin that some of them are more interested in compensation than anything else.
daily
Would the HK people and all those idiotic government and government-related officials give this thing a rest..........there is no reason for the Philippine government to apologize as they were not the ones who were directly involved in this issue.........the only thing you can blame them for is that they have incompetent police and rescue units who were unable to rescue the HK people in time before that mad gunman went wild.............Just move on and stop begging the Philippine government to apologize............no one in their right mind would do this.
sipsip1238
An unfortunate thing happened that involved people we know or people from our great city, to continue to dwell on this issue will only erode the image of Hong Kong being a group of whiners. How about showing how backwards Philippine is by actually accepting that there are people who are less able to accept mistakes than us; karma does come back eventually.
The way that the Philippine minister is treating this issue is showing that there really are no intention or awareness that there was something wrong with their policing force; how about focusing on suggesting methods of change and new prevention for the future instead of thinking constantly about extracting apologies and compensation.
jd.salinger.3154
What most people seem to fail to grasp is that the protests behind this case is about maintaining the rule of law and the safety of tourists in an otherwise unstable country with millions of problems of its own. Who would want to visit a country for leisure or business or for any reason at all if he/she could be dragged into a violent crime that involved a nonfunctioning police force? Likewise, no country should tolerate law-breaking tourists and visitors.
In regard to the maids in Hong Kong, are people capable to realize the way how Hong Kong seems to be instantly transformed into mini refugee camps on public holidays by these same workers they hire to take care of their youngsters while they are busy working away, and how this has a direct impact on the image of a supposed world city? This is a vicious circle the Hongkongers need to address and get out of sooner rather than later.
I myself am definitely not visiting the Philippines anytime soon even when there exists people who are eager to offer the protection of bodyguards just to keep tourists 'safe' sunbathing at a beach. There are plenty of nice beaches around on this planet.
Leila De Lima can consider to stop embarrassing herself in front of everybody with her lousy justice and keep it to herself.
ssslmcs01
If the useless government can't train a competent police force then they should apologize. Any competent respectable government would. At this stage it would be useless for them to apologize anyway as it would be a hollow apology anyway.
ssslmcs01
Last week when People Power announced their proposal to bar Filipinos from Hong Kong I wasn't sure that it was the right thing to do. Now I'm convinced that it is. The Taiwanese took swift and immediate action when the Philippine coast guard killed a Taiwanese fisherman and they got results. Now it is time for Hong Kong to take action. We can begin by barring Leila De Lima, and Aquino. Then as People Power said stop issuing new employment visas to Filipinos and stop renewing their visas. Their government looks upon Hong Kong as a third class city and the Chief Executive as the mayor of that city. Aquino should know that the GDP of Hong Kong, a city in his eyes is higher than that of the Philippines. And that the biggest source of income for the Philippines is its export of unskilled workers who line up at Western Union to send money back to their relatives at the end of every month of which about 160000 receive their paycheck from Hong Kong families.
onedistrict
Just avoid going to places where bodyguards are warranted !
KwunTongBypass
Why is nobody asking LKS to apologize, being the ultimate owner of a boat that obviously was not state-of-the-art (navigation system, hull, crew, safety equipment) for operating in busy waters?

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