Hong Kong denies accepting Manila’s apology

Hong Kong’s Security Bureau said Thursday a Philippine news report claiming that the Hong Kong victims of a 2010 hostage-taking in which eight people died and seven others were wounded have accepted Manila’s apology was “incorrect.”

“The content of the report concerned on the apology in relation to the Manila hostage-taking incident is incorrect…We will request clarification from (Manila City Councilor) Mr. Ang,” according to a statement released by the bureau.

The bureau stressed that the Hong Kong government, the victims’ families and survivors “have not reached a consensus on an apology with Mr. Bernardito Ang.”

James To, the Hong Kong legislator representing the families and survivors, is set to meet Manila representative Bernardito Ang later on Thursday to discuss the hostage issue.

To and Ang — who is in Hong Kong to broker reconciliation — met Tuesday with little results according to To, who said the gap between both sides “remains wide.”

An ABS-CBN news report, posted on the Philippine media organization’s website Wednesday, painted a much more optimistic picture.

“The representatives of the Hong Kong government and the victims of the 2010 Manila bus hostage crisis have accepted the apology of the city government of Manila,” it said.

The report quoted Ang as saying that the victims’ families and survivors “are very happy” with the Manila City Council’s resolution and apology, and that “the families of the victims are no longer insisting that President Benigno Aquino III himself should apologize too.”

Ang continued to say that the victims’ families “now understand why the Manila city government is the only one apologizing, noting that the incident took place in the capital city,” the report said.

Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, who reportedly could be traveling to Hong Kong next month or in early December, has said he is sincere in offering apologies to Hong Kong on behalf of Manila, and that the city council has passed a resolution along the same lines.

Aquino has, however, declined to apologize on the grounds that the incident was caused by a “mentally unstable” gunman.

On Aug. 23, 2010, dismissed policeman Rolando Mendoza seized a tour bus with 25 people aboard, including 21 from Hong Kong, in a bid to seek reinstatement.

After lengthy negotiations, Mendoza opened fire with an M-16 rifle, killing seven Hong Kong tourists and a guide and wounding seven others.

He was later shot dead by police.

Victims and families of the deceased have been seeking an apology, compensation, punishment of responsible officials and the Philippines’ promise to never let a similar incident happen again. Kyodo News