Erap arrives in Hong Kong to mend ties
Former President and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada waves to journalists upon his arrival at Hong Kong Airport on Tuesday. Photo by Bobby Yip, Reuters
HONG KONG - Former President and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada arrived in Hong Kong on Tuesday with a high powered delegation to try and mend relations with the territory which were strained after a 2010 hostage crisis.
He is expected to meet the Hong Kong government and hostage victims and families, extend an apology and offer some compensation.
He was accompanied by Manila councilor Bernadito Ang as well as a top aide of President Benigno Aquino and the national police chief.
A group of Hong Kong tourists was taken hostage in Manila in August 2010 when a policeman who had just been fired seized their coach. Eight of them were killed when the sacked police officer opened fire amid a bungled rescue attempt.
The Hong Kong families of the eight who were killed have demanded an apology and compensation, punishment for officials who dealt with the crisis and enhanced tourist safety, in a row that has soured ties.
Aquino has ruled out apologizing for the violence. In February Hong Kong scrapped visa-free access for all Philippine diplomatic and official passport holders.
Hong Kong and the Philippines have close economic relations, with more than 100,000 Filipino domestic helpers working in the city, but emotions still run high over the killing of the tourists.
The former British territory of Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 but retains a high degree of autonomy over its affairs.
The strain in ties between the city and the Philippines comes during a sharp deterioration in relations between Beijing and Manila over overlapping claims of potentially oil- and gas-rich waters in the South China Sea.