Erap: Manila bus hostage crisis not the fault of PNoy

by Kathlyn dela Cruz,

Posted at Jan 30 2014 04:11 PM | Updated as of Jan 31 2014 01:46 AM

Says HK sanction vs PH officials unfortunate

MANILA -- Manila Mayor Joseph "Erap" Estrada lamented the decision of Hong Kong government to scrap the visa-free access of Philippine government officials and diplomats, saying the city of Manila has already issued a formal apology for the deadly 2010 bus hostage crisis.

"It's really very unfortunate that happened. As mayor of Manila, I apologized for the incident," Estrada told ANC's "News Now" on Thursday.

The families of the eight Hong Kong tourists who were killed in the hostage-taking incident have demanded an apology and compensation, punishment for officials who dealt with the crisis, and enhanced tourist safety.

According to Estrada, he sees no need for the national government to apologize to the people of Hong Kong for the incident, noting that the crisis happened in Manila.

Therefore, the one responsible for it is the local government of the city and President Benigno Aquino III "has nothing to do with it," he said.

"They (Hong Kong) want the President to apologize, but it's not the fault of the President," Estrada said.

He said he will try to reiterate the city's apology to Hong Kong "even to the extent of going there and even beg them."

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), for its part, said Hong Kong asked for a renegotiation and an apology "[which] the Philippines, as a sovereign nation, is not prepared to consider." 

DFA spokesperson Raul Hernandez assured the Filipino people that the government has already done what it can with respect to the hostage crisis.

The Hong Kong government on Wednesday announced that it will suspend the visa-free access of Philippine government officials and diplomats effective February 5 due to the Philippines' failure to issue a formal apology for the hostage crisis.

Currently, government officials and diplomats enjoy 14-day visa-free access to Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said this is only the first phase of sanctions.