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  • Dec 27, 2014
  • Updated: 6:26pm
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Philippine President Aquino angers Manila bus siege victims' relatives with legal liability comments

Philippine president again refuses to apologise despite Hong Kong's imposition of sanctions

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 February, 2014, 4:48am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 February, 2014, 9:10am

Relatives of Hongkongers killed in the Manila hostage crisis have slammed Philippine President Benigno Aquino as "irresponsible" after he again refused to apologise for the tragedy.

They also urged the Hong Kong government to consider tougher sanctions after it ended visa-free access for Philippine diplomats and officials to press for an apology and compensation for the victims.

Aquino fuelled the row in a New York Times interview, in which he said there would be no apology for the killing of eight Hongkongers by sacked policeman Rolando Mendoza and a botched rescue operation, despite the "phase one" sanctions that took effect yesterday.

Aquino told the Times that any apology risked creating a legal liability. He also noted that China had not paid compensation for the death of Filipinos in episodes on its territory.

In a separate statement, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs called on Hong Kong "to be sober and to reflect rationally on this issue".

But Tse Chi-hang, brother of slain tour guide Masa Tse Ting-chunn, said of Aquino's reaction: "It is very disappointing. It is very irresponsible for [Aquino] to try to negate the responsibility his government should bear for the incident. The Hong Kong government should press harder and consider tougher measures."

However, Executive Council member Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, a strong advocate of sanctions, called for patience and suggested the picture could change when Aquino left office in 2016.

"I am not saying we should concede defeat. I like to point out that it is going to take a long time," Ip said, noting there was still room for Hong Kong to increase sanctions, such as tightening visa restrictions for Filipinos coming to work in the city other than as domestic helpers.

Lawmakers and solicitor James To Kun-sun, who has worked with the families and survivors, said sanctions sent a strong message that Hong Kong would back its actions with words. But he said it was too early to talk about further measures.

"We should trust the government and allow it more time. We also need to allow Manila time to weigh its options," said To. But he said the families stood firm on the need for an apology from Aquino.

Financial services lawmaker Christopher Cheung Wah-fung, who has family links to the Philippines, said businesses in Manila feared further sanctions.

But the Civic Party's Dr Kenneth Chan Ka-lok, an international relations scholar, said Hong Kong could do little more without Beijing's input.

In Manila, city councillor Bernardito Ang, who represents Manila mayor Joseph Estrada, yesterday said further negotiations between the city government and Hong Kong were being arranged. "The instruction of [Estrada] is not to let go of the negotiations despite the national government's failure to reach an agreement," said Ang, adding that sanctions would not affect the "friendship" between both places. Estrada, a former president, has attempted to extend an olive branch to Hong Kong.

"We will keep talking … we wholeheartedly want to resolve the issue," Ang said.

A Hong Kong government spokesman welcomed Ang's comments and said it was committed to negotiations.

Additional reporting by Ng Kang-chung



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This article is now closed to comments

Governments do not apologise for incidents like this. As they say has China apologised for incidents where people are killed on their soil. Did USA apologise for innocent people killed in drone attacks.
I believe compensation has been paid, condolences offered, but to have a country apologise for a madman who committed a crime is not reasonable.
They could apologise for not handling the situation more efficiently, but that is about it.
Any apology under duress is meaningless anyway, an apology now to get round sanctions will be totally devoid of meaning.
So basically Hong Kong legislators realize they're not going to get a formal apology from the president of the Philippines. About time this apology issue was put to bed.
Just ratchet up the sanctions. It's juvenile thinking of Aquino when he can't separate issues and attempts to latch on one separate incident with another - the killing of Filipino tourists in Beijing by terrorists which Beijing actively sought out the perpetrators as opposed to the Manila hostage situation done by one of their own policemen and having their own forces botch the entire operation. Then they proceed to ignore criminal charges their own IIRC recommended. When Aquino mentions concerns of risking legal liability with an apology, it shows his concern is simply $$$ and has nothing to do with justice. Maybe he should rename the Philippine NATIONAL Police (which the Manila Police District is a part of), to something else if he wants to pretend the country has nothing to do with it. By Aquino's logic, he should be seeking an apology/compensation from Beijing, not China since that incident only happened in Beijing, except Beijing authorities did not botch up any operation.
Sanctions take time for its effects to be felt, no need to discuss the issue day in and day out. Just roll out a time schedule for different sanctions to kick in and leave it to Aquino on how far he wants to run with it.
if they think that the Philippines president should apologized to victims of the Manila bus hostages...then Mr. Xi jinping should also make a formal apology to the Indonesian maid who was being brutalized and abused by her HK employer...
Facts are right, Mendoza was a former PNP officer, a "civilian" with intimate know how of police tactics and operations. It was also a division of the PNP, the Manila Police District that botched the rescue operation. Philippines' own IIRC made criminal recommendations that were not adhered to and dismissed.
Funny how it now needs to be sidelined to Hong Kong's domestic helper abuse situation. Once again, the attempt to latch one separate issue with another. Yes, there are employers who abuse their workers and that is not right, but at least in HK, they do arrest and put to trial abusive employers. That is acknowledgement. Where are the arrests and trials of the officials who botched the rescue operation?
In this issue Hongkongers are behaving ridiculously. They are perhaps mistaking the Philippines Government with their Philippino maids.
"...Hong Kong would back its actions with words." Surely that should read, "back its words with actions"? As the way is stands is meaningless.
matt.lee, get your facts right. The terrible tragedy in Manila was not conducted by a Philippino policeman. It was committed by a civilian. The tragedy was showed the terrible inadequacies of the Phillipines but these have been acknowledged in official reports and condemned by the Philippine population at large, and condolences have been expressed by Aquino.
Now lets address what Hong Kong employers are doing to domestic helpers in Hong Kong. Twenty per cent are physically abused by their employers and 6% are sexually abused. When will the Hong Kong government and people acknowledge this tragedy and express their condolences?


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