Progress in PH-HK ties: Manila bus hostage gets aid

STILL WAITING. In this 2011 file photo, relatives of the 8 dead Hong Kong nationals attend a ceremony at the Quirino grandstand, the site of the hostage-taking tragedy. File photo by EPA/Dennis M Sabangan

STILL WAITING. In this 2011 file photo, relatives of the 8 dead Hong Kong nationals attend a ceremony at the Quirino grandstand, the site of the hostage-taking tragedy.

File photo by EPA/Dennis M Sabangan

MANILA, Philippines – In an effort to repair damaged ties with Hong Kong, the Philippine government turned over an "additional token of solidarity" to one of the survivors of the 2010 Manila bus hostage taking crisis.

Yik Siu Ling, 36, who suffered from a gunshot wound on her right jaw, received financial assistance donated by Filipino businessmen "as a manifestation of the Filipinos' humane consideration of the plight of the victims and their families" for her series of facial reconstruction surgeries, according to a joint statement by the two governments on Tuesday, November 19. 

The gesture was a result of the discussion between President Benigno Aquino III and Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung at the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders' Summit in Bali, Indonesia, in October. The two agreed to work together toward a "mutually satisfactory" conclusion to the dispute.

In an interview with the South China Morning Post, Yik said, "I hope the central and the Hong Kong government can continue to work hard and bring a reasonable resolution to the incident". 

The two leaders also assigned their own representatives to address the 4 demands of the survivors and the families of the victims: Secretary to the Cabinet Jose Rene Almendras and Director of the Hong Kong Chief Executive's Office Edward Yau.

The 4 demands are:

Tse Chi-kin, whose tour guide younger brother Masa was killed, told Agence France-Presse that the Philippines had "done the right thing" by giving compensation to Yik. "I'm feeling positive on the negotiations because I think both governments have been trying to settle this issue as soon as possible," he added.

Agence France-Presse also reports that a separate statement issued by the Hong Kong government Tuesday said Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying believed "substantive progress on the Manila hostage-taking incident" had been made, following a meeting in the city between Philippine Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras and senior officials.

Hong Kong threatened to slap Manila with sanctions – including the imposition of a visa requirement for Philippine passport holders – for its continued refusal to heed the demands of the Chinese territory's government.

A black travel alert was also issued following Manila's failure to meet the 4 demands.

In 2010, sacked police officer Rolando Mendoza held 25 Hong Kong tourists hostage while they were on board a bus in one of Manila's tourist areas. A failed rescue attempt by Philippine authorities resulted in the death of 8 of the hostages.

Although it happened under his predecessor Alfredo Lim, current Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada issued an apology for the incident in late October but this was deemed inadequate by the Hong Kong government– Rappler.com