News / Asia

Philippines, Hong Kong Reach Accord on 2010 Hostage Killings

Philippines Secretary to the Cabinet Jose Rene Almendras speaks during a press conference at the Philippine Embassy in Hong Kong, April 23, 2014.
Philippines Secretary to the Cabinet Jose Rene Almendras speaks during a press conference at the Philippine Embassy in Hong Kong, April 23, 2014.
Simone Orendain
Philippine officials say issues surrounding the deadly botched rescue attempt of Hong Kong nationals held hostage at a Manila park nearly four years ago, have been resolved “once and for all.”
 
Philippine Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras said a series of meetings between the Philippine and Hong Kong governments over seven months resulted in the Philippines meeting four demands of the victims and their surviving family members.  
 
On state-run television, Almendras, who led negotiations, said the government offered condolences, undisclosed reparations, reassured the victims it would hold accountable those responsible for the bungled rescue attempt and take measures to ensure the safety of tourists.
 
Almendras said Wednesday was the first time Philippine officials met face to face with a small number of the victims and their surviving families and the government’s sincerity was on the line.
 
“That was the most difficult, challenging option that needed to be in place.  Despite the fact that there were tons and inches of documents that were signed… at the end of the day the families said ‘We will see if the sincerity is there.’  So I’m happy to report that that came across really well,” said Almendras.
 
In August 2010, a disgruntled former policeman, who was heavily armed, hijacked a tour bus filled with Hong Kong nationals and demanded he be reinstated.  The daylong hostage situation resulted in eight deaths and seven injuries after a police swat team tried to break into the bus and exchanged gunfire with the ex-officer.  
 
Since then, victims and their families had been calling for an official apology from President Benigno Aquino on behalf of the Philippines.  The president refused saying the entire country could not be held accountable for the actions of one man.  The administration instead expressed condolences and offered compensation.  
 
The president and Hong Kong’s chief executive had a lengthy discussion on the issue of the “non-apology” at the APEC summit in October, which prompted negotiations.  In November, Hong Kong threatened sanctions against Philippine passport holders and non-renewal of its thousands of contract workers if the victims’ four demands were not met.  The first sanction against the Philippines that revoked government workers’ visa-free privileges to Hong Kong went into effect in February.
 
Philippine officials met with Hong Kong government officials Wednesday.  In a statement afterward, Hong Kong Chief Executive C.Y. Leung said the two governments and the victims “reached consensus on the resolution of the four demands.”  He said the Philippine government expressed its “most sorrowful regret and profound sympathy, and extends its most sincere condolences.”  Leung said the sanctions as well as a years-long travel ban to the Philippines were lifted as of yesterday.
 
On Thursday, a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry said Beijing is “pleased to see that this issue has been properly resolved in the end.”
 
Hong Kong Legislative Councilor Albert Chan was one of the authors of the sanctions.  He said emotions are still high in Hong Kong over the lack of an official apology.
 
“Some thing’s not satisfactory for this conclusion.  But since the victims’ families already expressed that they accept this arrangement, we don’t want to drag this on indefinitely because this will add stress to the families of the victims,” Chan stated.
 
Chan said relations between the two governments have slightly improved.  But he said “Hong Kong people are still extremely angry” and sad over what he called President Aquino’s “unwarranted” attitude.

You May Like

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid