The families of the Hong Kong tourists who were killed and injured in a hostage crisis in Manila more than seven years ago have finally received an official apology from a Philippine leader for the tragedy, although some of them deemed it too late, Apple Daily reports.
Speaking before a large crowd of Filipino workers in Hong Kong at the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal on Thursday evening, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who ended his three-day visit to Hong Kong on the day, noted the Philippine government had not made an apology for the incident that took place in 2010.
“From the bottom of my heart, as the President of the Republic of the Philippines and on behalf of the Filipino people, may I formally apologize to you now,” Duterte said.
“We are sorry that the incident happened. As humanly possible, I would like to make a guarantee that it will never happen again.”
On Aug. 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 of them dead and several others injured.
In 2013, then President Benigno Aquino made a personal apology to the families of the eight dead victims and provided them with compensation, but there has been no formal apology from the Philippine government, something that has been longed for by the victims’ families.
Duterte said it was only right to apologize, although he understands it would take a long time to really assuage the feelings of the Chinese government and people.
Meanwhile, it was noticed that the Philippine leader, known for making brash remarks, did not mention “Hong Kong” in his speech but only “Chinese”.
The brother of Masa Tse Ting-Cheung, the guide of the Manila tour group who died in the incident, said it was the Philippine government’s improper handling of the incident that led to the tragedy.
While he called Duterte’s apology too late, he said it at least provided a formal relief, adding that it is hoped the country would enhance tourism safety to prevent similar tragedies from happening again.
Yik Siu-ling, one of the survivors, said the apology did not mean much as it was already late, calling on Duterte to meet with them formally or write them an apology letter.
Considering a late apology better than none, Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun, who has been helping the victims’ families, revealed that the victims’ families had been willing to reach an agreement with the Aquino administration at the time because they did not want to see Sino-Philippine relations worsen.
A spokesperson of the Hong Kong SAR government said in a statement that it is hoped the families concerned can feel relieved by the Philippine president’s apology.
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