HK, Philippines settle hostage spat
2014-April-24 Source: Szdaily web edition
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Hong Kong yesterday scrapped travel sanctions against the Philippines after Manila offered an apology and compensation for a hostage tragedy almost four years ago, settling a lengthy diplomatic spat between the two.

Hong Kong and the Philippines have close economic ties, with more than 150,000 Filipino domestic helpers working in the city.

But emotions still remain raw over the 2010 killing of eight Hong Kong citizens in Manila by a sacked Filipino policeman after their tourist bus was taken hostage in a day-long siege.

After a prolonged standoff and negotiations, the gunman opened fire. Many Hong Kong residents watching the drama unfold on live television blamed the deaths on what they considered to be a botched handling of the crisis by Philippine authorities.

Both sides had now reached a “consensus” on resolving the rift, Hong Kong’s leader, Leung Chun-ying, told reporters following a meeting with Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada and an envoy of Philippine President Benigno Aquino in Hong Kong.

The victims’ families said they too were satisfied with the Philippine Government’s apology, its offer of additional compensation, a pledge to punish officials who dealt with the crisis and a commitment to enhance tourist safety.

“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,” both governments said in a joint statement.

Leung said the agreement heralded a “normalization of bilateral relations” between the two sides.

“I believe that the bilateral relations between the peoples of Hong Kong and the Philippines will start a new chapter,” Leung told reporters.

While the compensation amount offered by Manila has not been disclosed publicly, media reports said it was around HK$20 million (US$2.6 million).

Editor: 张莹
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