Manila owes apology for errors that led to hostage crisis deaths

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 February, 2014, 5:06am
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 February, 2014, 5:06am

John Shannon, in his letter ("HK will be international laughing stock", February 5), makes some valid points in connection with the Philippine government's refusal to apologise for the atrocity that took place in Manila in 2010, when eight Hong Kong people lost their lives because of the action of one gunman; in particular, his referral to the black travel advisory warning regarding travel to the Philippines.

This is obviously absurd since the Philippines is a wonderful place to visit, highlighted by the warmth of the inhabitants to visitors.

Nevertheless, I think Mr Shannon has missed the main point regarding Hong Kong's decision to pursue the matter. This is that the government in the Philippines was involved and certain people in it, possibly up to the president, made decisions which were palpably wrong and led to a loss of life.

Unlike the situation he compared it with, that of the maids who have been abused by some employers here, the incident in Manila was seen by public and government officials alike because of the television coverage at the time.

In those news broadcasts, every viewer could see that there was opportunity to put the gunman out of action. He at least once appeared at the door of the bus where the shootings took place.

There can be little doubt that authorities, including government officials, had the chance to make an order to demobilise the man. They did not, until eight people lost their lives. For that an apology is merited. The problem now will be that it will not be heartfelt - hence, in addition, a large sum in compensation should be paid to the surviving victims and to the families of those hostages who perished.

I would ask the Hong Kong government not to take any measures that will affect those people of the Philippines who had nothing to do with the event, and who were just as appalled by it as everybody else who witnessed it; for example, domestic helpers.

However, pressure should continue to be exerted on the Philippine government, as its leaders do not seem to see the need to apologise for a tragic happening which could have been avoided if people in power had made the right decisions.

Chris Stubbs, Discovery Bay