• Thu
  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 8:37am
NewsHong Kong

Aquino apology 'silenced by fear of legal backlash'

Saying sorry could lead to compensation payout Philippines can ill afford, says Beijing diplomat

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 October, 2013, 4:32am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 October, 2013, 2:12pm

Philippine president Benigno Aquino is refusing to apologise for the Hong Kong hostage tragedy because of his fear of taking legal responsibility, according to a senior diplomat at Beijing's embassy in Manila.

"President Aquino has a strong sense of legal awareness because many of his officials are lawyers," the diplomat, who requested anonymity, told the South China Morning Post.

"He is afraid that once he makes an apology, the Hong Kong victims' families, who also have a strong legal sense, will take action to sue the government for misconduct and seek compensation. That would be a big burden for a poor country."

More than three years after eight Hong Kong tourists were shot dead by sacked policeman Rolando Mendoza, Hongkongers are still angry about how the Philippine government handled the hostage crisis and its refusal to apologise.

The anger deepened after the government did apologise when a 65-year-old Taiwanese fisherman was shot dead by its coastguard on May 9.

After threats of sanctions from Taipei, the Philippines offered a formal apology to Taiwan, paid compensation to the victim's family, and homicide charges were recommended.

It also led to accusations that the Hong Kong government had been too soft.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda has said that the government had paid compensation to Hong Kong victims' families through a non-governmental body; former tourism secretary Alberto Lim had given an apology, which represented the president's attitude; and some officials had been punished.

Lacierda has also said that the envoy sent to Taiwan following the May 9 shooting did not indicate preferential treatment.

"An envoy was sent to Taipei … because we don't have diplomatic relations," he said. The Philippines sent a higher-level delegation to Hong Kong, led by Lim, the diplomat added.

Some Philippine people do not agree with this reasoning.

"Aquino should personally give an apology to the Hong Kong people as this happened in Manila. As the president of the Philippines, you should take responsible for such a tragedy even though it's not your mistake," said Teodoro Locsin, a journalist and former speechwriter for ex-president Corazon Aquino.

A Filipino businessman who refused to be named said he and many of his friends felt shame when their president smiled while commenting on television about the hostage case.

"He should not only apologise to Hong Kong people, but also say sorry for his improper behaviour, especially his strange smile, no matter whether he did it intentionally or unwittingly," the businessman said.



More on this story

For unlimited access to:

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



This article is now closed to comments

A country who can afford to throw away US$464 billion in the purchase of 12 FA50 fighters from South Korea and can afford to buy 2 frigates at US$437 billion (monies that can use to create jobs and help the poor of the Philippines) cannot be classify as a poor country.
We are only seeing excuses for the President of that country in not apologizing to the victims and their families, when it should have been done three years ago. The way that their police force blundered the rescue; the order of the arrest of the gunman's brother in full view of the gunman; the smile on Aquino's face when he inspected the carnage are already reasons enough for an apology. The usage of Presidential powers to protect his cronies are also reasons for him to apologize to the victims and their families.
Compensation should be from this corrupt and incompetent government, and maybe subsidized by other organisations who are offering compensation. Major thing is Aquino needs to make the move of giving the victims and families an apology, which we have been waiting to see for 3 years. It is only just and right to do so.
Ok, so lets strike an agreement then, Aquino apologises on condition that they will not be sued for any compensation.
But who are we kidding. Its all about money & compensation.
"He is afraid that once he makes an apology, the Hong Kong victims' families, who also have a strong legal sense, will take action to sue the government for misconduct and seek compensation. That would be a big burden for a poor country."
But, but, if Estrada, mayor of Manila apologizes then by that logic that would mean Manila has put its foot into the too costly glass slipper.
Surely there is an appropriately worded apology that could be drafted for Aquino that manages to acknowledge things went in an unintended direction and that everyone is sorry about what Mendoza did and wished the outcome had been different might be a step in the right direction without being a legally binding admission of blame.
So ths is CY Leungs stragedy, an unrelenting coverage by the HK media.
What a load of utter rubbish. Why would the Philippines government have to apologize for anything? Compensation? Give me a break. Life is full of risks. Learn to live with it ffs.
you mean mio not bio right ? If its bio, its 3x their GDP......
they had their financial compensation via the NGOs, which was initially not disclose by the families. Why hide it ?
In the end, they want more money, plain & simple.
Hong Kong and the victims of the shooting are being used as a political tool by China. China is applying pressure on the Philippines because of their ongoing territorial disagreement. They are using HK just as the US uses the Philippines and Japan. It is simply disappointing to watch HK media and citizens embarressingly go along with the sham.
The longer it takes, the more painful it will be !
According to figures released to the press, all the figures in US$ and in billions. It should be right, for 12 FA50 fighters are not cheap, and it was reported as such by the media. Two modern frigates from the United States will not cost million but billions.
I'm sure families had been advised by their lawyers, and thus aware that they need Aquino to verbally take responsibility for the incident for them to have a chance of getting financial compensation. That is why the continued persistence for a public apology.
The families of the victims should build on the compensation offer made through the non-government organisation. This is only practical and will help release themselves from mental torture. If the package is deemed inadequate initiate negotiations but if the aim of extracting an apology is mainly to get huge compensation the Philippines Government wont budge.


SCMP.com Account