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  • Dec 23, 2014
  • Updated: 7:28am
NewsHong Kong

Manila offers US$75,000 for each dead victim of bus hostage tragedy

Compensation 10 times that paid to families of slain Filipino soliders, negotiator says

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 October, 2013, 4:24am
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 October, 2013, 4:03pm

Is a Hongkonger's life worth more than that of a Filipino soldier? That was the provocative question asked yesterday by the Manila City Council member sent to negotiate a compensation deal for the victims of the 2010 hostage tragedy.

Bernardito Ang said that the council, under flamboyant mayor Joseph Estrada, was ready to pay US$75,000 to the families of the eight Hongkongers killed by gunman Rolando Mendoza.

Those seriously injured would receive double that sum - US$150,000 - while those with less serious injuries would get US$20,000 to US$25,000, Ang told Cable TV. By contrast, the family of a Philippine soldier slain in action gets the equivalent of HK$50,000 (US$6,449) - less than a tenth of the compensation for the dead Hongkongers, Ang said.

But Ang's comments came under fire from lawmakers and families of the victims.

Asked why Estrada was seeking help from Filipino businessmen, including members of its Chinese minority, to fund the compensation, Ang said: "Our government obviously has money but cannot openly say [why] we are compensating them so much.

"If a military soldier of ours dies while fighting for the country, [the family] currently gets HK$50,000. Hongkongers get US$75,000. Is that to say a Hongkonger's life is worth more?

"At first [we] were to give them a total of US$1 million, then I added in another HK$2 million so the total amount reaches HK$10 million. The representative said it was too little. Let Hong Kong citizens themselves decide on whether this is just."

Ang's comments demonstrated a lack of sincerity, said Tse Chi-kin, older brother of slain tour guide Masa Tse Ting-chunn.

"[The families and survivors] haven't even discussed things thoroughly, and he's already attacking us like this," he said.

Tse criticised Ang, who met the families on Tuesday, for revealing details of negotiations that were supposed to be private. He said the families were not seeking a specific sum but would take any amount "as long as the attitude is right", though survivors living with their injuries might be in a different situation.

Video: Philippine bus hotage-taking incident aired live on television

The Manila City or Philippine governments would have to take responsibility, Tse said, adding that he would not accept compensation paid in the name of Filipino-Chinese businessmen.

But Estrada, a former president who was elected Manila mayor in July, said yesterday that he had to seek external funding to pay the compensation, and insisted responsibility lay with the city government, not President Benigno Aquino, who has long refused to apologise for the tragedy or the botched rescue attempt.

"The city of Manila is bankrupt. We don't have the money. This is the reason," Estrada told Cable TV. "As long as we can give them the compensation [it doesn't matter] where it comes from. The president has nothing to do with what happened. This is the responsibility of the mayor, not the president."

Hong Kong lawmaker and former security chief Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee said Ang's offer was "ridiculously low". The comparison with the compensation for a Filipino soldier was unfair, she added, because it failed to reflect Hong Kong's high cost of living.

She wants the government to end visa-free access to the city for Filipinos in an attempt to press for an apology.

Security chief Lai Tung-kwok refused to comment on Ang's remarks, citing a confidentiality agreement.



Compensation Manila government planned to offer

  • For families of each deceased: US$75,000
  • For the seriously injured: US$150,000
  • For the lightly injured: US$20,000 to US$25,000




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Dear Regina Ip,
Why do you wish to make HK people's traveling to the Philippines more difficult ??
It's foreseeable that the Philippines will scrap the visa-free access for HK people if HK ends visa-free access for Filipinos to HK, isn't it ?
A pretty short-sighted attempt to gain popularity my dear lady.
Key points are missed in many of the discussions & news. 1. Victims should be paid from travel insurance based on HK living standards. 2. Legal claims can only be directed against the gunman & the Manila police for their gross incompetence and/or negligence. 3. There is no question of of winning damages or an official apology from the Philippines President or Government as neither were deliberately involved. It was a crime perpetrated by an individual & made worse by the local police. 4. Legal damages are always decided by the law & courts of the jurisdiction in which the incident occurred, & in this case, Manila, therefore, rightfully, the coompensation is always based on LOCAL conditions - e.g. average annual salary or cost of living. To argue that HK people should be compensated based on HK salaries or cost of living is unheard of but if the families are not satisfied, they can sue the Manila government in Manila. Why is HK not following the rule of law? 5. Mr. Ang's public disclusure is reasonable as this offer is of public interest. 6. HK people should not forget that if they are involved in a same situation in Mainland China, they are also compensated according to the local standard. Also, XJP will not apologise. 7. Aquino did not insult HK CE because he followed diplomatic protocol. The Head of any city in China cannot call the President of another country directly. Only Chinese Foreign Ministry can call on any foreign government or official. Ignorance or Arrogance ?
It is sad what happened in the Philippines. But I can't help but feel the people of Hong Kong are being tricked and manipulated by the Hong Kong government. 8 people died 3 years ago. But it is clear the government is trying to milk the situation as much as possible to try and approve its popularity. Making big statements, demanding large sums and grandstanding about how insincere the Philippine government is.
Does this really help the families? Their misery has been dragged out for 3 years daily. People die all the time in Hong Kong. I am sure someone died while I write this. We can not dwell so much on deaths 3 years ago. It is not good for the families and it is not good for Hong Kong.
It's a bit challenging for a poor person to buy a house on the Peak for a Peak dweller, even though in essence this is what Regina and yourself are expecting the bankrupt Manila gov't to do for the victims.
I was in a car accident over 2 years ago in Hong Kong where a person died, but he was an illegal from China. His family didn't get a cent, even though another driver was at fault. My family didn't receive anything either even though we almost died and our car totalled. And the driver at fault - all he was charged with was overloading and fined 2,000HK. This government (and Regina as a sidekick) is full of hypocrites.
I am just curious what is the global norm on this issue of intentional or accidental killings.
Intentional cases: Did the British pay those who they killed during their colonial ugly history (a long one in fact)?
Accidental cases: How about "unexpected damage" to the civilians by the US drone attacks - do those people get compensated? Just asking for information.
I saw live on TV how bad was the SWAT team in handing the case. I condemn them. But if the team was deployed from Manila, it is hard to push for apology from Philippine vs Manila. Similar argument if NYPD did a terrible job causing similar tragedy, you can sue NY city but very hard to get apology from Obama. As each city has its own jurisdiction.
There was a Chinese girl recently killed by fire engine rushing to save life for a plane crash, the girl parent could only sue the city of California
It is ridiculous for these Filipino representatives to throw such a card on the table. Compensation isn't paying for a life, it is meant to help families who have lost breadwinners or wage earners to maintain a decent standard of living and to be able to, for example have some savings for their children's education or their own retirement.
The difference in the cost of living between Hong Kong and the Philippines is significant. And the compensation expected by the family of a Filipino soldier would not make up the difference in the cost of raising a family in Hong Kong.
To the family and the rest, please accept the offer.
It would be too undignified especially to the deceased for us to quiver. No human life can rightly be measured by money and attempt to do so is unconstructively meaningless here. But make sure the offer is made with apology for failing protecting visitors who were guests of the country.
May God intercepts and have the tragedy rests in everlasting peace.



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