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Philippine gov’t won’t capitulate to HK demand for apology
Publication Date : 31-01-2014
Manila expressed on Thursday, regret over the move of Hong Kong to end visa-free visits by Filipino officials and stressed it could not give in to the latter’s demand for an apology for the 2010 deaths of Hong Kong Chinese tourists at the Quirino Grandstand bus hostage, a case which the Philippine government insisted had been brought to closure.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) issued the statement a day after Hong Kong announced it would require holders of official Philippine government passports to apply for a visa starting February 5 because Manila has not apologised for the deaths of the eight Hong Kong Chinese tourists who perished in a bungled police rescue from their Filipino hostage-taker at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila in 2010.
Hong Kong previously allowed all Filipinos to visit the island nation for 14 days without visas.
“The sanction is unfortunate because a substantive closure on the Quirino Grandstand incident has been arrived at three years ago with the previous Hong Kong SAR government and the victims as well as their families,” DFA spokesperson and Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez said in a statement he read to reporters.
Hernandez said that a renewed appeal for compassion was made to the government in October 2013 and it responded by offering “additional tokens of solidarity” that were pledged by Filipinos “at the behest of the Philippine government”.
“These amounts that are being offered are substantially more than those that have been previously accepted by the victims and their families. We have been made to understand that the victims and their families have agreed to this offer,” he said.
But Hernandez said the Hong Kong SAR government responded by opening a “total renegotiation’ to seek a demand for an apology over the deaths of its citizens. He said the Philippines, as a sovereign nation, “is not prepared to consider” this demand.
“Our nation has already expressed its deepest regret and condolences over the incident and we are preparing to reiterate this,” Hernandez said.
He said the government “remains committed to manifest compassion for the victims and their families and is ready to turn over the additional tokens of solidarity from the Filipino people … as soon as possible.”
“We would like to assure the Filipino people that the Philippine government has done its utmost best to address the Quirino Grandstand issue,” Hernandez said.
Relations between the Philippines and Hong Kong have soured after eight Hong Kong Chinese tourists and several others were killed in a bungled police rescue operation. They were held hostage by a dismissed police officer, Rolando Mendoza, who ended up shooting them inside a tourist bus.
Manila has expressed regret over the tragedy but has not officially apologised.