MANILA - Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada is now bound for Hong Kong in what he called a “joint effort” with the National Government to talk to authorities and families of the victims of the hostage crisis at the Quirino Grandstand in 2010.
Estrada, who left on Tuesday morning via Philippine Airlines Flight PR 318, said he was not asked by President Benigno Aquino III to go there.
Estrada, together with other Manila councilors, will be meeting with Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. The meeting will also include Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras and Philippine National Police Director General Alan Purisima.
Asked if the presence of the 2 Aquino officials already meant an apology from the National Government, Estrada said: “That is already a sign because the President is being represented by his own Cabinet members.”
Aquino earlier dismissed apologizing to Hong Kong over the bungled police rescue during the hostage crisis, saying it was an act of only one man.
This, even as Hong Kong continued to impose sanctions on the Philippines. The last time, Hong Kong scrapped the visa-free privileges for Philippine government officials.
Policeman Rolando Mendoza took hostage a tourist bus in August 2010 to decry his case, which first stemmed from his dismissal from service.
The hostage crisis turned into a bloodbath, leaving the hostage taker and eight Hong Kong tourists dead.
Estrada said he will personally go there to apologize to the families of the victims. He will also bring with him a monetary compensation worth HK$20 million or roughly P110 million.
“The President has no fault here… It’s local,” he said, noting an earlier report that found fault on the part of his predecessor, former Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim.
Manila earlier failed to get a favorable response when it directed Councilor Bernie Ang to go there.
Estrada said he does not want any new sanctions imposed against the Philippines.
He said he does not want the frayed Philippine-Hong Kong relations to affect the more than 160,000 overseas Filipino workers there.