MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte apologized for the 2010 hostage-taking that killed 8 Hong Kong tourists, during an event in Hong Kong on Thursday, April 12.
"May I address myself to the Chinese people who are here. From the bottom of my heart, as the President of the Republic of the Philippines and in behalf of the people of the Philippines, may I apologize formally for you now," he said.
He was speaking at a gathering of Filipinos based in Hong Kong. His apology is the first formal apology from a sitting Philippine president.
"We are sorry that the incident happened and as humanely possible, I would like to make this guarantee also that it will never, never happen again," said Duterte.
The 2010 hostage-taking fiasco was the first crisis to hit the administration of Duterte's predecessor, Benigno Aquino III. A dismissed policeman took 23 tourists hostage – 21 of them from Hong Kong – while they were aboard their tour bus in Manila.
Aquino had refused to apologize, arguing it could create a legal liability and pointing out that China has not given compensation to the families of Filipino victims who died in the mainland.
Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, a former president, had apologized to Hong Kong then, but victims were not satisfied as they also demanded compensation.
In his Thursday speech, Duterte alluded to the lack of an apology from Aquino, though he did not name the former president.
"We will go a long way to really assuage the feeling of the Chinese people. Wala kasing apology coming from the mouth so ako na (There was no apology coming from the mouth so let me do it)," he said.
Duterte dropped by Hong Kong after his short trip to China. His event was attended by a large gathering of overseas Filipino workers, but some Filipinos also staged a protest criticizing his bloody anti-drug campaign and authoritarian leadership style. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.