Hong Kong may make 'positive' announcement on Manila hostage tragedy today, says lawmaker

Call from foreign ministry comes as Manila mayor arrives in Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 April, 2014, 11:07pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 April, 2014, 3:33pm

Hong Kong could today make a "positive" announcement on the 2010 Manila hostage tragedy, a lawmaker said following a late night meeting with victims' families and government officials.

Speaking on RTHK, Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun, said he had been with some family members until 1am this morning, following yesterday's arrival of Manila's mayor Joseph Estrada.

Estrada and his delegation are expected to offer an official apology to the families affected. “I am not in a position to disclose more details about [our meeting],” To said. “I think the government could be making some announcement later today.”

When asked whether it will be a “breakthrough”, To indicated that it would be something “positive”.

His words appeared to be backed by Tse Chi-kin, brother of killed Hong Kong tour guide Masa Tse Ting-chunn, who uploaded a photo of last night's meeting to Facebook and said he felt “the fight which has lasted for three years and eight months is finally drawing to a close”.

Earlier today the Philippines Secretary to the Cabinet, Jose Rene Almendras, was seen at the VIP exit of the Hong Kong International Airport. He is believed to be joining Estrada. Another Philippine national-level official Alan Purisima, director general of the Philippine National Police is expected to arrive later today, according to Philippine national newspaper the Inquirer.

Beijing's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Qin Gang yesterday urged the Philippine government to speed up its handling of the fall-out from the tragedy and to respond to the "legitimate and lawful" demands of the victims' families.

The families affected by the events of August 23, 2010, when seven Hong Kong tourists and their guide were shot dead, and seven others injured, by a sacked policeman who laid siege to their tour bus, have repeatedly made four demands: an apology, compensation, punishment of the officials responsible and improved tourist safety."

The Chinese government has been urging the Philippine side to seriously respond to the Hong Kong government and to the legitimate and lawful demands of the relatives of the victims," Qin said.

Before his flight from Manila, Estrada - who was accompanied by Manila city councillor Bernardito Ang - told a Philippine news station that he would offer an apology for the "unfortunate incident" and help save the jobs of 160,000 Filipinos in the city.

The former Philippine president said he would also look to offer the families "some sort of compensation" in the area of HK$20 million.

It is yet to be confirmed if Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying would meet the Philippine officials, a spokesman for the Chief Executive said this morning.

A ceremony for the signing of an agreement of apology has been arranged. 

On Monday, Tse Chi-kin, brother of killed Hong Kong tour guide Masa Tse Ting-chunn, said an apology by Estrada would not end the affair.

He said he hoped that a representative at the national level would apologise.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino has repeatedly said the crime of an individual should not be construed as an act of the entire country.