President Duterte has apologised to Hong Kong for the death of eight tourists from the city state in the 2010 Manila hostage crisis.
The president’s words today (Thursday, April 12) were the first official apology from a Philippine president for the bloody fiasco that strained relations between the two countries.
During a speech to about 2,000 members of the Filipino community in Hong Kong, he said: “To the Chinese people who are here, from the bottom of my heart, as president of Republic of the Philippines, may I apologise formally to you now. We are sorry the incident happened, as humanly possible, I would like to guarantee this will never happen again.
“This will go a long way to really assuage the feelings of the Chinese people. So it’s only right. Lives were lost under our jurisdiction. What’s really needed is just to say we’re very sorry.”
Hostage crisis gripped the world
Eight tourists from Hong Kong died after sacked policeman Rolando Mendoza took a tour bus hostage in a bid to be reinstated. He had been dismissed from the ranks due to corruption allegations, which he denied.
In dramatic — and chaotic — scenes broadcast globally, police officers assaulted the bus by breaking the door and windows with sledgehammers. Mendoza then opened fire on the hostages before being shot and killed by the police.
The drama unfolded about two months after President Benigno Aquino moved into the Malacañang. He declined to issue an apology, saying the act of one hostage-taker should not be construed as the act of the entire nation.
The incident seriously harmed ties between the Philippines and Hong Kong, with the latter cancelling visa-free entry for Philippine officials and diplomatic passport holders over the unmet demands of families of the victims.
Relations between the Philippines and Hong Kong improved after Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada offered an apology in 2014.