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  • Dec 20, 2014
  • Updated: 7:25am
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DIPLOMACY

Aquino apologises – for forgetting Hong Kong chief executive’s name

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 October, 2013, 10:39pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 October, 2013, 6:29pm
 

Philippine President Benigno Aquino finally said sorry to Hong Kong yesterday - not for the Manila hostage bloodbath but for forgetting the name of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, whom he met earlier this month.

Aquino stuck to his refusal to apologise to the hostage victims and their families, and admitted that fears of a legal backlash were a consideration. But he said some of the policemen who botched the rescue of Hongkongers from a hijacked tourist bus in Manila in 2010 could get harsher penalties.

Video: Philippine president: There will be no apologies for Hong Kong over bus hostage tragedy

The president's apology came during a foreign press forum in Manila when he was asked if, on the sidelines of the recent Asean summit in Brunei, he had discussed Hong Kong's concerns with Premier Li Keqiang .

Aquino rejected a China News Service report that Li had told him to find a way to resolve the dispute, saying: "I didn't talk to him about the Hong Kong issue.

"We talked in passing, as opposed to a formal bilateral meeting," he said, adding that most of the discussion had to do with disputes in the South China Sea.

"I talked to the chief executive of the SAR - I'm sorry and I apologise, the name escapes me at this point in time - wherein he explained their perspectives and I explained our perspectives."

I talked to the chief executive of the SAR - I'm sorry and I apologise, the name escapes me at this point in time

Asked if the possibility of a legal backlash was deterring him from formally apologising, he said: "That has to be a consideration." An apology would imply that the hostage-taking was an act of state, and "then the idea also of compensation comes in".

"Our position is that the act of one individual who was probably mentally unstable should not be construed as an act of the entire country. We offered again our condolences to all who suffered and died. But there are limitations from a legalistic point of view."

Still, Aquino said his government was serious about bringing closure to the issue.

"I think the … current thinking is to increase the penalties for several policemen involved."

However, he said ex-Manila mayor Alfredo Lim might escape punishment, though he left his post at a crucial time and his order to arrest hostage-taker Rolando Mendoza's brother unwittingly set off the killing frenzy. He said the police commander ultimately was responsible, since he could have ignored Lim's suggestions.

Separately, the Security Bureau said it had "initial contact" with Manila City Council member Bernardito Ang, representing mayor Joseph Estrada, about arranging a meeting with bureau officials to apologise to the victims' families and survivors.

Ang said the city legislature was "sincere" in apologising regardless of what the Manila did.

"This incident took place in Manila. If something happened in Hong Kong, the central government wouldn't apologise."

But Tse Chi-kin, brother of slain tour guide Masa Tse Ting-chunn, said Aquino should say sorry, too.

Additional reporting by Phila Siu and Stuart Lau

 

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This article is now closed to comments

tksiow
You are too polite to call him smiley-face. He was more a Grinning-ape with a balding pate.
clk2828
This SCMP picture looks really bad. Looks like CY Leung was sitting anxiously and being disciplined by Aquino. Aquino swinging all his hand moves to show dissatisfaction to the Chief Executive. The official on the very left was heads down. Come on, is the HK Gov really this weak??
lamlm38
well stupidity and incompetence are not crimes u know :) forgiven!!
daily
What Aquino is really doing is mocking HK and the CE.........he's indirectly saying that Leung is not important enough for him to know his name or who he is............he's not really apologizing.
He is in fact quite a skilled politician which is more than what we can expect from the incompetent HK government officials.
jandajel
Great sense of humour - I love this guy!
oasis
Perhaps CY needs a bigger title than C.E. Perhaps the Grand Archduke of the not-really-autonomous city of Hong Kong.
Desmo
Perhaps focusing on comforting the victims and their families, both financially and emotionally, would be more practical than fighting for justice that might never been served, and begging for an sincere apology that might never be extended.
impala
That's all right Benny, we have trouble taking him seriously too.
ejmciii
He is the president of a sovereign nation. An error was made. That was admitted not that any of you people had a better idea. It is not the apology. It is the money. That is what you are fixated on. Justice was done to the man who committed the crime. You just want more money. And you get on your high horse. What a charade you are.
jandajel
You don't need to believe him. He is not your president! When will HK people realize that the Philippines is an sovereign country with its own leaders that answer to the Philippine people, not HK people?

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