Manila bus tragedy compensation plan differs from families' expectations

Bereaved families' representative says amount offered differs from victims' expectations

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 October, 2013, 4:27am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 October, 2013, 9:06am

The Manila city government's compensation plan differs from the expectations of families bereaved by the 2010 bus hostage tragedy by "a wide gap", the relatives' representative says.

The remark came after the first meeting in three years between a Manila official and the families' representative.

"The gap is quite wide," said Democrat lawmaker James To Kun-sun, who spoke on the families' behalf with Manila councillor Bernardito Ang, who is Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada's representative, yesterday.

He called the meeting a "very frank" exchange, but said the biggest difference lay in compensation and an apology for the 10-hour hostage drama that left eight Hongkongers dead and seven injured. "Compensation isn't only about the [monetary] amount - but, of course, the amounts differ by a wide gap."

On August 23, 2010, sacked Manila policeman Rolando Mendoza opened fire on board a tour bus of Hongkongers in the Philippine capital's Rizal Park.

To said he was to meet some families last night to see if they would make any concessions by tomorrow, before Ang was to leave the city. If both sides failed to budge, further meetings were unlikely to be arranged, he said.

The talk delved deeper into issues compared to one Ang held with Hong Kong government officials, To said. "[Ang] explained … their difficulties and limitations … We agreed to disagree."

Ang did not meet the media after the session. Local media had cited Ang on Friday as proposing compensation of US$1 million (HK$7.8 million) to be paid by the city government and ethnic Chinese businesspeople in the Philippines. But Manila vice-mayor Isko Moreno earlier said the city government planned to raise up to HK$20 million from ethnic Chinese in the Philippines, on the mainland and in Hong Kong.

No family members or survivors were present yesterday. "We don't want to be hurt," was what To said he told Ang in declining a face-to-face meeting.

Estrada, who will visit Beijing and Hong Kong next month, is expected to deliver a long-awaited apology.

Legislative Council chairman Jasper Tsang Yok-sing has urged Franklin Drilon and Feliciano Belmonte, respectively Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Philippines, to "call on the Philippine government to respond positively" to the requests of the survivors and bereaved families.