DIPLOMACY

Beijing: Aquino's claim over bus killings untrue

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 October, 2013, 3:26am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 October, 2013, 3:26am

Philippine President Benigno Aquino's claim that the Manila bus killings were not raised when he met Premier Li Keqiang recently was dismissed as untrue by the Foreign Ministry yesterday.

This came as Manila councillor Bernardito Ang met and briefed the Hong Kong Security Bureau about a resolution passed by Manila city council granting Manila mayor Joseph Estrada authority to apologise to Hong Kong on the city's behalf.

Aquino had earlier rejected a China News Service report that Li told him to find a way to resolve the dispute between the Philippines and Hong Kong. He said they did not talk about "Hong Kong issues".

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said yesterday: "Relevant remarks by the Philippine side are totally untrue." The meeting took place in Brunei on the sidelines of meetings of East Asia leaders in the VIP room, she said.

"We once again urge the Philippine side to earnestly respect the feelings of the families of the victims, take this issue seriously and offer a fair and reasonable solution as soon as possible," said Hua.

Meanwhile, Ricky Carandang, chief of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office in the Philippines, told the South China Morning Post, that no-one from Hong Kong's Chief Executive Office aired complaints about meeting arrangements when Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying met Aquino at the Apec meeting in Bali. The seating arrangements, in which Leung sat on the side with his aides while Aquino sat in the middle, were criticised as inappropriate.

Leung later said he accepted the arrangement because it was the "only chance" he had.

Carandang said: "I do not recall anybody expressing any kind of offence."

He said the discussions went smoothly "without raised voices, in a sober manner. There was no inkling or any hint that there was anything wrong with the seating positions or anything that was said".

He said the Philippine government was in charge of the protocol "because they came to us".

As for the complaint that Manila reneged on an agreement to release information at the same time, Carandang said there was no such arrangement.

"It was understood on both sides that we would go back to our respective media shortly afterward and make those announcements [but] there was no synchronisation," he said.

Leung said after the meeting, that news arrangements "had to be consulted and discussed with each other".