Int'l law expert lauds Erap apology to HK
MANILA -- The decision of former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph "Erap" Estrada to apologize to the Hong Kong government for the 2010 Manila bus hostage crisis is a "nice gesture," according to an international law expert.
In an interview with radio dzMM on Thursday, Atty. Howard Calleja said an apology, even if not from the national government, would help in appeasing the families of the eight Hong Kong tourists who died in the crisis.
"It would be a nice gesture to say sorry and to, let's say, admit to whatever wrong na ginawa ng mga ibang tao," Calleja said, pertaining to the people directly involved in the incident.
"Hindi naman ang nagkamali dito ang estado. Pero siguro may mga ibang tao na sa tingin ng city government ay medyo nagkulang o di sapat ang kanilang ginawa," he added.
President Benigno Aquino III has repeatedly said that he will not apologize to the people of Hong Kong, saying that the act of one hostage-taker should not be construed as the act of the entire nation.
Aquino on Wednesday also said that "all appropriate charges" have been filed against those responsible including sanctioning the Deputy Ombudsman who did not address the grievances of disgruntled police senior inspector Rolando Mendoza, which led him to take the Hong Kong tourists hostage to catch attention.
Aquino also faulted the ground commander at that time, Manila Police District Director Rodolfo Magtibay, for ignoring instructions to tap the elite police unit for the rescue mission.
No legal backlash
While he understands the President's reasons for not issuing an official apology for the incident, Calleja also pointed out that an apology would only mean that the government does not approve of the wrongdoings committed by certain individuals.
Calleja also dispelled Aquino's concern that an official apology would entail a possible "legal backlash."
Aquino earlier explained that apologizing would mean admitting that the state was at fault and should give reparation for the deaths and injury that the incident has caused.
"Hindi naman ito nagpapakita ng kahinaan bagamat ito'y nagpapakita ng isang kumbaga pagsang-ayon o pag-admit ng isang hindi mo naman sinasabing kasalanan mo pero isang pangyayaring di mo ninais, di mo ginusto," Calleja said.
"Sa palagay ko ito'y nagbibigay pa ng kalakasan cause when you admit something na ayaw mong i-admit eh ito'y kinahahangan pa," he added.
The lawyer also said that what the government should think about is the possible backlash this issue could have on the Filipinos working in Hong Kong.
"Eh paano kung ang mga kababayan natin ang di tratuhin ng tama? Diba ayaw din natin nun?" Calleja said.