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Manila mayor to apologize over HK deaths

Updated: 2013-10-24 07:44
( China Daily/Agencies)

But Philippine President Aquino refuses to make a formal apology

The mayor of the Philippine capital will formally apologize over the deaths of eight Hong Kong tourists in a 2010 hostage crisis, an aide said on Wednesday, despite the president insisting no apology should be given.

Joseph Estrada, a graft-tainted ex-president who was elected mayor of Manila in May, will go to Hong Kong this week to present the apology in the form of a resolution passed by the city council, a city official said.

Manila mayor to apologize over HK deaths

The mayor of Manila, the Philippine capital, will formally apologize over the deaths of eight Hong Kong tourists in 2010, but President Benigno Aquino (left) has consistently refused to make a formal apology on behalf of the national government. Ted Aljibe / Agence France-Presse

A formal apology has been one of the long-standing demands by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region over the deaths of the eight tourists in Manila in August 2010 after they were taken hostage by a disgruntled Filipino policeman.

"There is an admission of a bungled operation. The city of Manila is being more candid now," said Luch Gempis, secretary of the Manila city council.

Philippine authorities have acknowledged that police and other authorities mishandled the hostage situation.

However, President Benigno Aquino has consistently refused to make a formal apology on behalf of the national government, insisting the deaths were primarily caused by the actions of the hostage taker.

"In our culture when we apologize, we are admitting that we are at fault as a country, as a government, and as a people. And we pointed out that, from our perspective, there was one lone gunman responsible for this tragedy," Aquino said.

"We cannot admit wrongdoing if it's not ours. But we do extend our sincerest condolences," he said.

The lack of an apology, as well as a refusal to pay compensation, has caused deep tensions between Hong Kong SAR and the Philippines.

Aquino reiterated on Wednesday that no national government apology would be given.

"The act of one individual should not be construed as the act of the entire nation," he said, adding a formal apology could have legal ramifications that led to compensation.

Gempis denied the apology was intended to embarrass Aquino, who is a political rival of Estrada's. He also insisted it was not targeted at Alfredo Lim, another rival who was mayor of Manila when the hostage incident took place.

"The principal purpose of the resolution is to end the controversy, to have closure," he said.

Gempis said Estrada also hoped to attract Hong Kong investors and tourists back to Manila.

Estrada is a former movie star who translated his on-screen popularity into becoming elected president in 1998.

But he was toppled half way though his six-year term in a people's uprising over corruption allegations for which he was later convicted, and then pardoned.

He has since made a remarkable political comeback, finishing second to Aquino in the 2010 presidential elections, then winning the Manila mayoral race this year as a member of the main national opposition coalition.

AFP - Xinhua


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