MANILA, Philippines – It’s been three years since 8 Hong Kong tourists died in Manila in a bungled hostage rescue attempt.
The brother of a slain tour guide says the Philippine government is not doing enough for the victims.
Bea Cupin reports.
ERAP ESTRADA, MANILA MAYOR: I’m very sorry about this unfortunate incident… and then again… I did not apologize to anybody. I just said that I’m just sorry for the unfortunate incident that happened.
In typical Erap-speak, the Mayor of Manila says he is not apologizing, even if he is.
Three years after a hostage-taking incident in the Philippine capital, he claims things are different in the city.
ERAP ESTRADA, MANILA MAYOR: Now that I’m the incumbent mayor, I can assure all the tourists… especially the Hong Kong tourists that they are very safe here.
On August 23, 2010, 8 Hong Kong nationals died at the Quirino Grandstand after disgruntled Manila police officer Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza held 25 people hostage.
21 of the 25 were tourists from Hong Kong.
The victims and their families demand a formal apology from the Philippines.
President Aquino says — and maintains — a formal apology is not needed.
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda says, “It is unfortunate the incident happened but we have expressed regrets several times over the incident.”
Earlier this week, the South China Morning post quotes Estrada as saying: “On behalf of the people of Manila, as the mayor, I want to say we are sorry for the incident, for what happened to the victims.”
He told the Hong Kong based newspaper, his predecessor Alfredo Lim, a former friend turned bitter rival should have apologized immediately.
He also vows to improve peace and order in the city, called by famous book author Dan Brown as the “Gates of hell.”
ERAP ESTRADA, MANILA MAYOR: My vision is that no city, no province, no country can move forward if there is no peace and order.
The victims and their families file a case against the Philippine government a day before the incident’s 3-year anniversary.
They demand an apology and compensation.
Former Mayor Lim, whom Estrada beat in the last elections, is among those being sued.
Asked about the suit, Lacierda says “until the Philippine consulate in Hong Kong receives the complaint, we withhold any comment regarding the lawsuit.”
Estrada, for his part, can only assure victims and their families of one thing:
ERAP ESTRADA, MANILA MAYOR: I’ll see to it… I guarantee their safety here.
It’s little comfort for Tse Chi-hang, brother of slain tour guide Masa Tse, who says there is no sign the Philippine government is taking responsibility.
Bea Cupin, Rappler, Manila.