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 Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More