Hong Kong says Philippine hostage row over

April 23, 2014 - 12:50:33 pm

HONG KONG: The Hong Kong government said Wednesday a long-running dispute with the Philippines over a deadly hostage crisis had ended following a deal on an apology and compensation.

The agreement will see Hong Kong lift diplomatic sanctions it imposed on the Philippines in February in a bid to extract what it deemed an appropriate response to the tragedy in 2010.

"The four demands made by the victims and their families on apology, compensation, sanctions against responsible officials and individuals, and tourist safety measures will be resolved and settled," said a joint statement released by the Hong Kong government.

Hong Kong had been infuriated by the Philippines' response to the incident in August 2010, in which a former local police officer hijacked a Manila tour bus in protest at his sacking.

Eight people from Hong Kong were killed and seven wounded in a bungled rescue effort by Philippine security forces.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino had consistently rejected Hong Kong's demands for an apology, saying the tragedy was caused by the hostage-taker.

The statement released by Hong Kong on Wednesday said the issue of an apology had been settled by the Philippine government expressing "its most sorrowful regret and profound sympathy".

However the statement did not specifically mention a formal apology from the Philippine government.

The Philippines had already provided undisclosed financial compensation to victims and their relatives, with the money donated by private individuals.

Wednesday's statement said more financial compensation would be given, although there were no details.

"An additional token of solidarity will be given to the victims or their families as a most sincere gesture of compassion of the people of the Philippines," the statement said without disclosing the amount families and victims will receive.

The statement came after Manila mayor Joseph Estrada, a former president, arrived in the southern Chinese city this week in an attempt to bring closure to the row.

The Philippines government will offer HK$1.5 million or $193,482 for each of the deceased and HK$3 million for the injured in a compensation package which would total HK$20 million, Cable TV News reported.

The Philippine government also said it had taken measures to "hold to account those responsible", adding that it was ensuring such an incident will not occur in the future, according to the statement.

Spokespeople for Aquino in Manila were not immediately available for comment. (AFP)

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