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  • Oct 21, 2014
  • Updated: 10:41am
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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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This article is now closed to comments

One more way for thieves to feather their nests. How HK.
A country who can afford to throw away US$464 billion for the purchase of 12 FA50 fighters (they are training 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.
The only one looking at the dollar signs is greedy people like you (daily). These victims are not looking at putting a monetary value on their deceased relatives lives or their own injuries, they are trying to cover the cost of keeping a family minus one contributor. For those who were injured, I'm sure some of them have already spent more money on medical expenses than what the Philippine representatives are offering, not to even consider future expenses. Accepting $75000 USD would help defray the cost of the average Hong Kong family for a year or possible two for some families. It wouldn't be enough to pay the cost of raising a young family for 5 to ten years and then to help pay for university for your children. Accepting $75000 would be putting a price on your lost relative's life as it wouldn't be compensation for lost salary but a payment for a life.
Should HK government also not pay something to the victim families? I am sure they did something for the Star Ferry victims (or did they not)?
(PS: I am all for compensation. But, we should keep the mind open about sources rather than trying to make it about the PH govt.)
Btw, is the travel insurance not covering those who were sadly injured and killed. I am not sure i have ever seen any mention of that dimension.
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.
Depending if the victim's compensation demands are reasonable, the HK Govt should act for our people and bar visa's or halt any economic treaties with the Philippines. It's unfair for the good Philippines who want to just come here to work, but by doing so, they will understand that their own government was the cause of this.
This Ang is only making his comments for consumption back in his homeland. A life is a life and its meaningless to compare the life of a soldier to that of a tourist. Placing a monetary amount on the deceased, whether Chinese or Filipino, is downright disrespectful.
Furthermore, if what TO says is true, then why did this guy disclose details of their talks?
I had hoped for a positive outcome but it does seem the Aquino government and the Filipino press cannot be trusted. Aquino not only snubbed our CE, He also wrongly stated that CY had agreed to put the issue behind them. Later Aquino claimed our premier never talked to him on this issue.
With such roguish tactics I would not blame the government if it proposes sanctions against the Philippines. It seems increasingly clear that they are worried about the compensation amount as it is not exactly a wealthy country/province. So hit them where it hurts most. That could be the way to deal with a rogue.
Why can't HK government chip in a bit or maybe a lot more to help the victims to put the issue behind.
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.




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