Palace thanks Hong Kong for ending diplomatic row

Posted at 04/23/14 8:51 PM

MANILA (1st UPDATE) - Malacanang on Wednesday thanked Hong Kong for ending the diplomatic row over the 2010 hostage crisis but it remains unclear whether if the Philippines complied with the former Crown colony's demand for a public apology.

Communication Secretary Sonny Coloma in a late afternoon briefing said he talked to Secretary Rene Almendras, who confirmed that the relationship between the Philippines and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is now back to normal.

"According to Secretary Almendras, Chief Executive Leung has issued a separate statement in which he thanked President Aquino and the Philippine government on this auspicious development. I have conveyed to the President the report of Secretary Almendras and he expressed satisfaction that final closure and a mutually satisfactory conclusion has been reached. Secretary Almendras has agreed to provide you with a comprehensive briefing tomorrow," Coloma said.

Pressed if this meant the national government apologized, Coloma said, “ Well, we all know the elements that were being sought for such an agreement. One was on the aspect of the government saying sorry, and I think that has been adequately addressed, as proved by the fact that they have agreed that a mutually satisfactory solution has been reached. That implies that they have acknowledged that we have addressed that matter satisfactorily."

"The second element is the tokens of solidarity, which addresses the needs of the families. This is something that we have also discussed in our earlier briefings. But I think it would be best that we wait for Secretary Almendras to give us the full details. That is all that I have for now," he added.

Almendras said in a text message to ABS-CBN News that he is happy with the development. However, he did not give anymore details.

Coloma thanked Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada for his contribution to end of the tension between the two sides.

Estrada was joined by Almendras in Hong kong. Almendras was tasked by President Aquino to help fix relations between the Philippines and Hong Kong.

Hong Kong was infuriated by the Philippines' response to an incident in August 2010, wherein a former local police officer hijacked a Manila tour bus in protest of his sacking.

Eight people from Hong Kong were killed and 7 wounded in a bungled rescue effort by Philippine security forces.

Aquino had consistently rejected Hong Kong's demands for an apology, saying the tragedy was caused by the hostage-taker. - with a report from Kyodo News