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  • Updated: 9:49pm
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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

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.)
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.
A little context is in order methinks. Perhaps you should put yourself in the families' shoes before you make such an asinine remark.
"She wants the government to end visa-free access to the city for Filipinos in an attempt to press for an apology."
I say Filipinos should stop visiting Hong Kong now and start visiting other nearby Asian nations.
You don't seem to get it, the compensation is to make up the balance of the cost of living that was lost when the breadwinner was killed. $75000 USD won't even come close.
As far as an apology goes, they can keep it as far as I'm concerned a forced apology is meaningless.
I guess in your mind the $75000 is the cost of a human life.
“No Peace without Justice, No Justice without Forgiveness.”
(Pope John Paul II, after 9/11)
To find peace: Love your enemies.
Best regards,
My point is that this case is still being dragged on after 3 years and the card being played to the HK public is that Aquino owes the victims an apology. Now all of a sudden they say the compensation is too low.
If this case is more about compensation, then why involve the central government?
Do not be fool. That is not a bankrupt (maybe morally and ethically) country. This a country who is going to spend over 900 Billion United States Dollars to buy 12 training fighters (FA50) and two figates. Can you buy a house on the Peak if you are bankrupt?



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