MANILA - A Palace official hopes former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada’s trip to Hong Kong will help bring closure to the Manila hostage crisis.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda hopes the trip will help smoothen out the country’s relations with Hong Kong, which further took a hit following President Aquino’s refusal to issue a public apology to the victims of the hostage taking.
So far, Hong Kong has scrapped the visa-free privileges of government officials.
“We certainly hope [Estrada’s trip] will contribute to the national government’s efforts to achieve closure and a mutually satisfactory conclusion,” he said.
Lacierda has refused to categorically state if Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras will join the trip.
Estrada himself said Almendras and Philippine National Police Alan Purisima will be joining him in a meeting with Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.
Reports said Almendras will be arriving in Hong Kong tonight.
“Ang sinabi niya sa akin, hindi siya aalis. But you know, I am not in a position to comment on that right now because I was not involved in the negotiations or the discussions. So let me just verify with Secretary Almendras,” he said.
Former Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza took hostage a tourist bus in August 2010 to decry his case, which first stemmed from his dismissal from service.
The hostage crisis turned into a bloodbath, leaving the hostage taker and eight Hong Kong tourists dead.
A panel later blamed the police, members of the media, local government officials for the bungled rescue operation.