Philippine president refuses to say sorry

By Liu Yunlong Source:Global Times Published: 2013-10-24 0:58:01

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III Wednesday angered people from both the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong for his renewed refusal to apologize over the deaths of eight Hong Kong tourists in a 2010 hostage crisis, despite reports that the mayor of Manila will deliver a formal apology during a trip to Hong Kong.

At the forum of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines, Aquino clearly expressed that no national government apology would be given for the hostage crisis in Manila three years ago, in which a sacked police officer held 23 people on a Hong Kong tourist bus and killed eight of them.

"The act of one individual should not be construed as the act of the entire nation," he said, adding a formal apology could have legal ramifications that led to compensation.

Aquino has repeatedly declined to make a formal apology over the incident, frustrating the city government of Hong Kong and the victims' families.

In contrast, a Manila city official said Joseph Estrada, an ex-president who was elected mayor of Manila in May, will go to Hong Kong this week to present the apology in the form of a resolution passed by the city council, AFP reported.

The resolution passed on Tuesday expressed "the sentiment of the city government of Manila in their sincerest effort to apologize to the People's Republic of China, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the family of the victims of the Rizal Park hostage-taking incident."

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying Tuesday said in Beijing that with the support of the central government, they have been contacting the Philippine government in the last two weeks and will continue to seek justice for the families of the victims and those who were injured in the tragedy.

Earlier this month, at the request of Leung, President Xi Jinping assigned the foreign ministry to follow the incident, and Premier Li Keqiang asked the Philippine government to deal with it seriously during his talks with Aquino in Brunei.

"Under pressure from China, the Philippine side tries to make a friendly gesture and gets in touch with the Chinese side through Manila's mayor conveying an apology to Hong Kong," said Wang Wei, a research fellow with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

"The Philippines is seeking a breakthrough [in the stalemate with China]," Wang Xiaopeng, an associate professor of politics with China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times, noting that the Philippines faces pressure from both the Chinese central government and Hong Kong SAR government.

Estrada's planned delivering of the apology is regarded as an effort to make Hong Kong lift its black travel warning against the Philippines.

However, Aquino's consistent refusal to apologize may lead to little effect from Estrada's endeavor.

Tse Chi-kin, brother of a victim, said he hopes Estrada can represent the entire country, not just his city. Tse also said the Philippines should address all four of the relatives' demands - including compensation, and punishment for officials who bungled the rescue - instead of just issuing an apology, according to RTHK.

Net users in Hong Kong writing on, a major online discussion forum in the city, voiced their frustration toward Aquino, saying they wouldn't travel to the Philippines even if the black warning were lifted.

In the mainland, the news also seized wide attention, with people expressing their outrage toward the "irresponsible manner" shown by Aquino, noting that apology from the city government is far from enough.

"Aquino's statement shows that the Philippine side didn't take a serious attitude when handling the issue," said Wang Xiaopeng.

Agencies contributed to this story

More in Daily Specials:
HK awaits apology from Manila mayor

blog comments powered by Disqus