Hong Kong and the Philippines have agreed to end their long standoff over issues related to the 2010 Manila bus hostage crisis that left eight Hong Kong citizens dead and injured several others.
The breakthrough came as representatives of the victims’ families said on Wednesday that they have accepted the compensation offer provided by the Philippines, although “the most sorrowful regret” by Manila in its statement fell short of a full-scale apology.
Speaking at a press conference after the release of a joint statement, Tse Chi-kin, the elder brother of tour guide Masa Tse Ting-chunn who was killed in the incident, said they don’t want more innocent people to be affected by Hong Kong’s sanctions against the Philippines as tougher measures may be imposed if they refuse to accept the current solution.
“We believe the government has done its best,” Tse said. Victims’ families have considered all the pros and cons in accepting the offer, said Democratic Party legislator James To Kun-sun, who represented the victims.
In the press conference, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying announced that Hong Kong will end its sanctions and normalize bilateral relations with Philippines as the matter has been resolved.
The government said it was adjusting the Outbound Travel Alert (OTA) for the Philippines to Amber. Hong Kong residents who intend to visit the country or are already there should monitor the situation, exercise caution and attend to personal safety, it said.
The agreement over the compensation package came after Manila mayor and former Philippine president Joseph Estrada visited Hong Kong on Tuesday to apologize for the 2010 hostage crisis. Estrada met families of the siege victims on his four-day trip to Hong Kong.
On August 23, 2010, a sacked Philippine police officer hijacked a bus in Manila with 21 Hong Kong tourists on board. The 11-hour siege ended in a gun battle that left eight people dead and nine injured.
There was no progress on the compensation package for more than three years after the tragedy until Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said last October that the Philippines should take the initiative to resolve the problem. That was followed by a top-level meeting between Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying and Philippine President Benigno S Aquino III.
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