Offering their “sorrowful regret and sympathy” to the 2010 Manila hostage crisis, the bitter conflict with Hong Kong was now resolved. The victim’s families have finally accepted the deep regret, according to Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras.
The conflict between the two countries arising from the hostage crisis have been finally settled after the demands of the families have been met, which includes tokens of solidarity and tourist safety measures. This agreement was met after a closed-door meeting among Philippine and Hong Kong officials with the families of the victims, with former Philippine president Joseph Estrada and Almendras on the Philippine team.
“Did I apologize for President Aquino? I did not say anything to that effect but I expressed certain emotions and certain things relative to that. But it was not an outright (apology),” said Almendras in a Malacañang press briefing.
He added, “I have no authority to say ‘I am sorry on behalf of the Republic of the Philippines’ but we made sure that we addressed the issues.”
He expressed gratitude to the entire Philippine team who helped to resolve the conflict, citing ex-president, currently Manila Mayor Estrada’s key role in the meeting. Estrada presented a city council resolution expressing the apology for the incident. He made an apology in 2013 right after his election as the Mayor of Metro Manila. The Philippine National Police also sent letters of regret to each of the victim’s families.
There have been apologies before but none of them was accepted, and when Almendras was asked why Estrada’s apology was accepted this time, he said that the delivery and the tone are equally important to the message.
Almendras also thanked the Hong Kong panel involved in the discussion to end the conflict.
“We had good times, we had a lot of tough times, but in the end we came across. And I would like to acknowledge their professionalism,” he said.
Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III was very happy to learn that the Philippines and Hong Kong have resolved their conflicts regarding the hostage incident. It will also lift the sanctions Hong Kong imposed against the Philippines.
“I’m sure with all the problems we have, every single solution, however small the problem is, if you solve it, it is one less thing to worry about,” Almendras added.
We can remember last August 23, 2010, the Manila hostage crisis, officially known as the Rizal park hostage-taking incident took place. Rolando Mendoza, a former Philippine National Police office, hijacked a tourist bus in Rizal Park, Manila, Philippines. The bus contains 25 people, which consists of 21 Hong Kong nationals and 4 locals. The hostage incident resulted to the death of 9 people and resulted to a conflict between Philippines and Hong Kong.
The relationship between the two countries was severely affected, threatening the country’s image and the safety and well-being of Filipinos overseas especially at Hong Kong. Many criticized the Philippine National Police for their lack of planning and strategy for negotiating with the hostage taker.