By Raïssa Robles
The resolution of the 2010 bus hostage crisis finally came this afternoon and was announced by no less than Hong Kong Chief Executive Chief Executive CY Leung.
The breakthrough came when Philippine National Police Director General Alan Purisima brought over letters signed by him for each of the victims’ families. It was after all the police that had tragically botched up the hostage rescue effort on August 23, 2010 which resulted in the death of seven Hong Kong tourists and their HK tourist guide. And no less than President Aquino’s right hand man, Secretary to the Cabinet Jose Rene Almendras, accompanied the delegation.
To HK authorities and the victims and their families, the presence of the two national government officials gave the meeting a presidential stamp of approval. Even if Aquino made no formal apology.
And of course we mustn’t forget Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada who persevered and would not take “no” for an answer despite insults hurled at him for inserting himself into the controversy. As well as Manila Councilor Bernardito Ang who tirelessly acted as a go-between for Manila and Hong Kong. But why was Councilor Ang in a wheelchair when he left Hong Kong airport?
It’s a very interesting and touching display of a bipartisan effort. And of course it is a vindication of Estrada, too.
The very happy staff of Estrada tweeted the South China Morning Post (HK) story on the breakthrough entitled – Hong Kong and Philippines finally resolve bus hostage crisis as sanctions are lifted
In the last few days, I have been totally engrossed running around gathering bits and pieces of what was about to happen in Hong Kong. I was surprised, to say the least, when I first heard that Director General Purisima might make some kind of apology. It’s pretty big of him to do that.
Part of my job was checking and counter-checking the whereabouts of Purisima and Almendras. To make matters harder, Almendras even told GMA News yesterday that he had not gone to HK. That was true. He had not gone ON THE SAME FLIGHT AS ESTRADA TO HONGKONG. He left for HK this morning :)
Almendras wanted to avoid the press at all costs, I guess. And he managed to do so.
UPDATE as of 6:15 PM, April 23, 2014:
SCMP has updated the story to – Hong Kong and Philippines resolve bus hostage crisis as families accept “confidential” compensation payout.
The latest story states that while the visa sanctions and black travel alert have been dropped, the travel alert has “reverted to amber.”
Tse Chi-kin, brother of slain Hong Kong tour guide Masa Tse Ting-chunn told SCMP he was accepting the resolution and compensation, saying –
“I can’t say whether I’m happy with the result or the wordings [of the statement] but I’m glad this has all come to an end. Will we insist on getting the right words [for an apology]? We understand that in circles of diplomacy there are lots of discrepancies.”
UPDATE as of 8:45 PM, April 23, 2014:
HK Chief Leung said during a press conference later in the afternoon:
“With the final resolution of the incident I sincerely hope that the deceased will rest in peace and the injured and families can move on with courage and strength.
“I also believe the bilateral relations between the peoples of Hong Kong and Philippines will start a new chapter.
Here below is the full joint statement issued by both the Philippine delegation and HK authorities:
Pursuant to the agreement of the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), C Y Leung, and Philippine President Benigno S Aquino III to work towards a mutually satisfactory conclusion to the Quirino Grandstand Incident which took place on 23 August 2010, the HKSAR Government and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines have agreed that the four demands made by the victims and their families on apology, compensation, sanctions against responsible officials and individuals, and tourist safety measures will be resolved and settled as follows.
The Philippine Government expresses its most sorrowful regret and profound sympathy, and extends its most sincere condolences for the pain and suffering of the victims and their families. The Police Director General of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines has written to all victims or their families.
In the spirit of solidarity and in acknowledgment of the loss of the victims and their families, an additional token of solidarity will be given to the victims or their families as a most sincere gesture of compassion of the people of the Philippines.
The Philippine Government has assured the HKSAR Government that measures are being undertaken to hold to account those responsible and to see the outstanding proceedings conclude as soon as possible. Details on the administrative and criminal proceedings pursued are set out in Annex A. The Philippine Government undertakes to keep the HKSAR Government informed of progress made in resolving the outstanding proceedings.
The Philippine Government has assured the HKSAR Government that it is committed to ensuring that such an incident will not occur again. Details on the measures implemented to guarantee the welfare and safety of those visiting the Philippines are set out in Annex B.