Aquino sees closure, Leung disagrees

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President Benigno Aquino 3rd met with Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-Ying on Tuesday to discuss the hostage-taking incident at the Quirino Grandstand in 2010 but came out of the meeting with divergent views.

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Aquino maintained his stance that the Philippine government will not apologize for the “actions of one gunman.”

“Sabi ko sa kanila, sa culture namin [I told them that in our culture] when we apologize then we admit that we are at fault as a country, as a government and as a people. And we pointed out that from our perspective, there is one lone gunman responsible for this tragedy,” he said after the 30 minute meeting with Leung in Bali, Indonesia.

“But we do extend our sincerest condolences. Again, we expressed our deepest regret that it’s so contrary to how we treat visitors in our country,” he added.

Asked whether Leung accepted his expression of regret, Aquino said: “More or less. I think he mentioned something like ‘We recognize that in your culture personal fault is what you apologize for’.”

The President said that both governments are working to finally put a closure on the incident.

“So, we are working to put that behind us,” he said.

However Leung gave a less positive assessment of the talks.

“The Philippine side, at the beginning, took the position that the matter has been resolved. I did not agree,” he told Hong Kong reporters in Bali.

“I believe, and I made the case to the Philippine side, that this matter, unless it is resolved properly, will continue to stand in the way in the normal relationships between Hong Kong and the Philippines.”

Hong Kong has long demanded a formal apology plus compensation for the relatives of the victims and for the injured.

The Chinese government also asked the Philippines on Tuesday to take measures that will address the demands and requirements of the victims of the Luneta hostage crisis in 2010.

“The Chinese government’s position on the Hong Kong hostage crisis is consistent and clear. We urge the Philippine government to pay high attention to the requirements and concerns of the families of the victims, take concrete and effective measures and work out a proper solution as soon as possible,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said in a statement.

A disgruntled former policeman hijacked a tourist bus packed with Hong Kong tourists in Manila in 2010 in a desperate bid to regain his job.

After lengthy negotiations, police launched a bungled assault that left the gunman and eight hostages dead, plus seven wounded.

In August survivors and relatives of the dead sued the Philippine government in a Hong Kong court to demand compensation and an official apology.

The Hong Kong government continues to warn its residents against travelling to the Philippines.

The meeting with Leung occurred a day after Hong Kong journalists covering the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit shouted questions at Aquino, prompting organizers to boot them out.

The President said the reporters’ act “didn’t seem right.”

“Maski saan naman tayo pupunta, we are expected to conform to certain norms or behavior [Wherever we go, we are expected to conform to certain norms of behavior],” he said.

With a report from Bernice Camille Bauzon and AFP

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