The Philippines should apologize “at the highest levels” for the 2010 bus siege that killed seven Hong Kong tourists and their guide, Hong Kong media said Wednesday.
In editorials ahead of a scheduled meeting between Manila mayor Joseph Estrada and Hong Kong officials and the victims’ families, major local newspapers said efforts made so far by Manila have been inadequate.
They want an apology from President Benigno Aquino.
The Hong Kong government should have an alternative plan if Aquino refuses to apologize, Ming Pao said. If Philippine Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras has been sent as Aquino’s representative, his presence may involve a country-level apology, it said.
Meanwhile, a resolution of the three-year-old standoff is doubtful given that Hong Kong has been withholding details of a purported document that would be signed by both sides to settle the dispute, Sing Tao Daily said.
Estrada, a former Philippine president, is expected to offer HK$20 million in compensation to the victims’ families and make an official apology, according to media reports.
The families have set four conditions for a final settlement — an apology, compensation, punishment of the officials responsible and improved tourist safety.
The tragedy occurred after a dismissed policeman hijacked a tourist bus carrying 25 people, resulting in a shootout and the deaths of eight of the hostages and the gunman during a botched rescue by a Manila police squad.
Aquino has repeatedly refused to apologize, saying the crime of an individual is not an act of the entire country.
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