MANILA – A spokesman of President Aquino got a brief lecture from his former professor at the University of the Philippines after the two disagreed over Hong Kong’s demand that the Philippine government apologize for the 2010 Manila hostage crisis.
In an interview on ABS-CBN’s Umagang Kay Ganda, Prof. Clarita Carlos said she sees no reason why the Philippines should not apologize for the hostage crisis, in which a former local police officer hijacked a Manila tour bus in protest at his sacking. Eight people from Hong Kong were killed while seven more were wounded in a bungled rescue effort by Philippine security forces.
“Ano ba ang magsorry tayo? Mag sorry tayo sa errors in judgment. Yun naman e. Ang ibig sabihin ng error in judgment, at the time, that was the best decision that was available to us. Kaysa yung ganito, ang tagal-tagal na,” she said.
She likened the situation to the Philippines’ own indignation with the Japanese government for failing to apologize for the acts of the Japanese military who forced up to 200,000 women from Korea, China, the Philippines into sexual enslavement during World War II.
She said threats of more sanctions should not be the basis for the Philippines’ apology to China but because it has a “deep understanding of the situation.”
“Ang pag so sorry kasi ay tanda ng malalim na pag-unawa sa isang bagay o event. Ang pag so sorry ay hindi ibig sabihin ay mababawasan ka. Yun ang tingin ng iba e,” Carlos said.
Hong Kong has cancelled visa-free arrangements for Philippine officials and diplomatic passport holders. They are currently able to stay 14 days without a visa.
On the other hand, Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma said the Aquino administration is determined to put closure to the incident, noting that both President Aquino and Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying have already talked about the crisis.
He said the Philippines has already given concrete help to the victims of the hostage crisis in the form of financial compensation.
“Masyadong absolute ang ganung salita (no apology). Nagkakaroon naman ng pag uusap kung paano magiging katanggap-tanggap, na maging acceptable to both parties,” he said.
Carlos, however, reminded Coloma, who is her former student, about Chinese culture and their cosmology. She said that in Chinese culture, there must be forgiveness before there is closure.
“Why are we quibbling about all other actions na ginagawa pa ng gobyerno e isang hininga na lang, yun ang hinihingi nila. If you are talking about deep understanding, let's also have a deep understanding from their standpoint,” she said.
Coloma, however, said there was no quibbling involved regarding the resolution to the Manila hostage crisis.
“We need to tell them our world view also. Hindi naman pu-puwede yung sa kanila lang ang iiral dito. Yun lang po masasabi ko. Hindi po quibbling,” he said.
Carlos said her definition that the Philippines is just “a breath away from an apology” should not be seen in the pejorative sense.
“We are really just a breath away from the apology. That's what I am saying. All our actions are just leading to that direction. If it walks like a duck, it must be a duck. Ano ang punto? What are we losing if we make that formal apology? That should be the question. Ano ang mawawala sa atin?”
She added: “There is pride in humility. There is victory in humility lalo na ang daming pagkakamaling nangyayari.”
Meanwhile, a Facebook poll on ABS-CBN Umagang Kay Ganda showed that only 4% of respondents support the proposal that the Philippines should apologize to Hong Kong.