MANILA - No public funds were used for the money given to the families of Hong Kong tourists killed during the Quirino hostage-taking crisis in 2010, Mayor Joseph Estrada said Friday.
Estrada, who returned from Hong Kong Friday after helping end the diplomatic row between the two sides, denied that a compensation package for the victim's kin was paid using public funds.
"Wala kaming alam na P100 million compensation. As far as I know, the local government, the city mayor of Manila or the national government didn't spend a single cent because all donations were from the private benefactors," he said.
Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras earlier described the money as "tokens of solidarity."
Estrada described the outcome as beyond the Philippine side's expectations. "Everything was very successful."
"It's all done. The black alert is lifted. Everything is back to normal. It's all finished. It's all over," Estrada said.
Estrada, who earlier blamed his predecessor Alfredo Lim for the botched rescue of hostages during the Quirino incident, said the former mayor can no longer be administratively sanctioned.
"How can you give sanction to a... he's no longer the Mayor. So it's up to the President or the DILG to sanction him here if he's proven responsible for that Hong Kong crisis. So it's up to the President and DILG to investigate the former Mayor. But the Hong Kong authorities have nothing to do with that."
He said it's also immaterial whether the Palace only expressed regrets and did not say sorry for the incident.
Estrada said the Manila City council has already issued a resolution apologizing for the bloody hostage crisis. "It happened here in Manila so the President has nothing to do in it, alright?"
"Nagpapasalamat tayo naging matagumpay lahat ang mahigit dalawang taong negosasyon at ngayon pati ating mga OFWs ay nakapalagay na ang kalooban nila na hindi raw sila malalagay sa alanganin," he said. "Hindi na sila kakabahan na baka sila na ang sumunod na i-sanction, yung mga working visa nila ay hindi ma-extend. Wala na 'yun."