Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok said yesterday that whether Manila was sincere or not about solving the hostage crisis was more important than the amount to be paid to the victims' families.
And he said he felt the sincerity of Manila councillor and Manila mayor Joseph Estrada's representative Bernardito Ang in a meeting last Friday. Undersecretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu echoed Lai's remarks and said he felt Ang was keen on finding a resolution to the incident.
"Sincerity is more important than the actual amount of compensation," Lai said.
In a radio interview yesterday, Lai also said when Hong Kong would cancel the black travel alert against Philippines - which puts the country on par with Syria - would depend on whether Hongkongers felt comfortable travelling to the country.
Lai's comment came as local media reported that Ang last Friday proposed compensation of US$1 million (HK$7.8 million) to be paid by the city government and ethnic Chinese business people in the Philippines.
However, Manila vice-mayor Isko Moreno earlier told Philippine media that the city government planned to raise compensation of about HK$10 million to HK$20 million from ethnic Chinese in the Philippines, mainland China and even Hong Kong.
Lai confirmed they had discussed compensation issues with Ang last Friday, but said it was premature to reveal details. He also said the Friday meeting focused on the four demands raised by the families - an apology, compensation, punishment for the officials responsible and improved tourist safety.
He said the government would not employ a "piece-by-piece" approach in its negotiation with the Philippines and would aim at settling all of the families' demands in one go.
The Security Bureau said it was waiting to hear from the families on whether they would meet the council's representative.
Ang could not be reached yesterday and it was unknown if he was still in Hong Kong.
Survivor Yik Siu-ling, who was briefed on the Friday meeting by Lee, said the families would gather to decide whether to meet any representative from Manila. She said they would not demand an "unreasonable" amount of compensation; the sum would be based on Hong Kong laws.