HK raps Philippine media over report on hostage crisis
HONG KONG - Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's recent appeal for the Philippines to resolve tension over a 2010 hostage-taking in Manila in which eight Hong Kong people died was "too late" as Hong Kong had agreed to put the crisis "behind," Philippine presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda was quoted as saying in a Manila news report picked up Friday by media in Hong Kong.
The Manila Standard Today, in a report published Thursday, quoted Lacierda as saying, "When China made the appeal, President Benigno Aquino and Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying had already met in Indonesia to discuss the issue and both had agreed to put the issue behind them."
"(China is) too late," Lacierda said.
Aquino met with Leung on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit held in Indonesia, after which the president reiterated Manila would not "apologize" for its botched handling of the hostage crisis.
But Leung said the Philippine media's report was "quoting out of context" what he said during the meeting with Aquino.
"There is no such thing as: 'I have asked for a meeting (with Aquino) and suggested to him that we put behind (the hostage-taking incident),'" Leung told the press after meeting some family members of the victims and survivors.
"This afternoon we have sent an e-mail to the Philippine presidential office, asking them to facilitate a meeting, to which (Aquino) has agreed, with one high-level official assigned by each side to directly discuss the matter," he said.
Leung also stressed that he "solemnly" told Aquino at the meeting about the victims' demands, and that the relationship between Hong Kong and the Philippines would continue to be affected if the matter was not properly resolved.
Li sought resolution of the matter during a brief chat with Philippine President Aquino when they met Wednesday during the East Asia Summit in Brunei, China's state-run China News Service had reported.
Aquino reportedly told Li that a relevant investigation is ongoing to appropriately handle the matter, according to the Chinese report.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a daily briefing in Beijing that there is no confirmation if the words "too late" were used or if the news report was authenticated.
Families of victims and survivors of the incident want the Philippine government to apologize for its unsuccessful handling of the hostage-taking, pay compensation, take disciplinary action and make a pledge such an incident will not happen again.
Tse Chi-kin, brother of killed tour guide Masa Tse, who among others has criticized the government for its inaction, said he feels satisfied following Friday's meeting with Leung.
"I hope the (Hong Kong) government will toughen up when dealing with the Philippines," Tse said. "Especially when facts and reasons are on our side, why can't we stand strong and fight?"
On Aug. 23, 2010, dismissed policeman Rolando Mendoza seized a tour bus in central Manila 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 after a bungled police assault on the bus.
Hong Kong has maintained a black travel warning, the highest of the three-tier system, against the Philippines since the killings.