HK exec: Talks with PH to continue

Posted at 02/11/2014 3:19 PM | Updated as of 02/11/2014 3:19 PM

MANILA – A Hong Kong official on Monday said the Chinese special administrative region would continue discussions with Philippine authorities over a botched rescue mission in Manila in 2010 that left eight Hong Kong tourists dead.

Hong Kong's Secretary for Security TK Lai was quoted by Hong Kong's Information Service Department (ISD) as saying that talks between the two governments would continue in order "to reach agreement on the victims' and their families' four demands - including the request for an apology."

"Secretary for Security TK Lai says he would not rule out any possible actions that could help resolve the Manila hostage tragedy," the report read.

The Hong Kong government earlier suspended the visa-free arrangement for visiting Philippine diplomats and officials as a result of Manila's failure to issue a formal apology over the incident.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying previously said the move is the "first phase of sanctions."

Addressing the cancellation of the visa-free privileges for the first time, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III told New York Times that apologizing to Hong Kong could create legal issues.

"Mr. Aquino said he had no plans to apologize, saying that doing so could create a legal liability and noting that China had not paid compensation to the families of Filipinos who have died in episodes there," the New York Times reported.

The Philippines, despite its continued refusal to issue a formal apology and the cancellation of the visa-free privileges, also said it continues with its dialogues with Hong Kong.

“We are still continuing to engage each other. Both parties are continuing dialogues and conversations that, hopefully, would lead to achieving mutually satisfactory results and a closure," Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma said last week.

"I am not able at this time to tell you what are the specific items in the agenda that are being discussed, or if that particular object of your inquiry is, in fact, in the agenda. All I can say is that we are purposely pursuing avenues for possible attainment of closure on this matter."