Erap eyes P120M compensation for hostage crisis
MANILA - The primary reason behind former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph "Erap" Estrada's move to apologize to the Hong Kong government is that he wants to finally put closure to the 2010 Manila bus hostage crisis, Vice Mayor Isko Moreno said Friday.
"Gusto niya nang isarado yung libro," Moreno said in an interview with ANC's "Headstart."
Moreno said Estrada also wants to bring back the old glory of Manila. He said the mayor's decision to apologize is meant to bring back Hong Kong tourists to the city.
"Nag-iisip [siya] ng mga bagay kung paano ba maibabalik yung tiwala sa Manila," he said.
According to Moreno, Estrada will be meeting with Hong Kong officials either on the last week of November or the first week of December to personally hand his formal letter of apology.
He will also bring with him a copy of the Manila City Council's resolution granting him authority to represent the city.
Moreno said he believes Estrada's move does not in any way undermine the authority of President Benigno Aquino III, who has repeatedly said that he will not apologize to the people of Hong Kong with the fear of a possible "legal backlash."
"Marami siyang kailangang problemahin... Di namin siya masisisi," the vice mayor said of Aquino, citing the recent crisis in Zamboanga and the disaster that struck Bohol and nearby provinces in Western Visayas.
"What we are after is our city... With all due respect, di namin sila kailangang konsultahin cause this thing happened in Manila," he added.
The Palace, for its part, said it is not bothered by Manila's decision, noting that the local government unit enjoys autonomy.
Moreno said aside from the formal apology, Estrada also aims to raise 10 to 20 million Hong Kong dollars or about P60 million to P120 million for the families of the eight Hong Kong tourists who died in the crisis.
He said the money will not come from the city's funds but will be raised from Filipino-Chinese businessmen in Manila as well as Chinese residents in Hong Kong and mainland China.
"What matters most is hindi yun pera ng siyudad at sana pakinabangan ng siyudad yung magiging epekto katulad pinapangarap ni Pangulong-Mayor Erap na bumalik na muli yung turismo," he said.
Should PNoy apologize too?
Meanwhile, international law expert Howard Calleja also sees nothing wrong with the move of Manila, saying that the apology has long been overdue.
"Legally, wala naman akong nakikitang masama o repercussions... As a city government they can do whatever they want to do and of course they are not naman representing the Philippines," he said.
"But in any case whether they represent it or not, sa akin itong apology na ito has been long overdue dahil more than 3 years na ito. Sumasangayon ako sa move ni Erap at ng City Council of Manila na for once and for all tapusin na," he added.
Calleja also said that Estrada's stature as a former president should bring more weight to the gesture.
But should Aquino, being the country's top official, apologize too? "Honestly if you ask me, he should apologize," Calleja said.
"I think it is kumbaga up to the executive to follow up from the act of the mayor," he said.