Hong Kong gives Philippines sanctions warning

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HK protestHong Kong has threatened to impose unspecified economic sanctions on the Philippines if “substantial progress” is not made within a month in talks demanding the country’s apology and compensation for a hostage tragedy in 2010. Hong Kong is demanding a formal apology for the incident, which saw eight of its citizens killed and seven others wounded after negotiations broke down between Philippine authorities and a former police officer who hijacked a tour bus.

Speaking before a debate by legislators calling for sanctions against the Philippines on November 5, Leung Chun-ying, Hong Kong’s leader, urged the Philippine government for a “concrete and timely response”.

“Unless, within a month, there are concrete steps taken to resolve this issue, the government will take necessary actions to apply sanctions,” Leung said without going into specifics.

Hong Kong and the Philippines have close economic ties, from tourism to more than 100,000 Filipino domestic helpers working in Hong Kong, but tensions continue over the incident. The tragedy happened in 2010 when a busload of Hong Kong tourists in Manila were taken hostage by disgruntled former policeman, Rolando Mendoza, who had just been dismissed.

Following a prolonged stand-off and negotiations, watched on live television by thousands in Hong Kong, the man opened fire after what the victims’ families maintain was a bungled rescue effort.

“I urge the Philippines government and/or the Manila municipal government to quickly come up with a proposal to respond to the families of the deceased and the requests of the injured,” Leung said.

Hong Kong has maintained a travel warning to the country since the episode, while the city’s legislators have mooted a cancellation of its visa-free arrangement for visitors from the Philippines as well as possible trade sanctions.

Another further sanction could be a freeze on domestic helpers. More than 160,000 Philippine nationals reside in Hong Kong, with most working as domestic helpers. Bilateral trade between the two countries totaled about $8.2 billion in 2012.

In October 2013, Joseph Estrada, Manila mayor, offered to issue an apology for the hostage-taking incident. But Philippine President Benigno Aquino has refused to make an apology on behalf of the country, insisting that the Philippines could not apologise for the crimes of one person, he reportedly said at the time. He has offered compensation of $75,000 to each family of the deceased and up to $150,000 to those injured. But the families involved in the hostage crisis have not accepted the money, saying the amount was too low.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Hong Kong has threatened to impose unspecified economic sanctions on the Philippines if “substantial progress” is not made within a month in talks demanding the country’s apology and compensation for a hostage tragedy in 2010. Hong Kong is demanding a formal apology for the incident, which saw eight of its citizens killed and seven others wounded after negotiations broke down between Philippine authorities and a former police officer who hijacked a tour bus.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

HK protestHong Kong has threatened to impose unspecified economic sanctions on the Philippines if “substantial progress” is not made within a month in talks demanding the country’s apology and compensation for a hostage tragedy in 2010. Hong Kong is demanding a formal apology for the incident, which saw eight of its citizens killed and seven others wounded after negotiations broke down between Philippine authorities and a former police officer who hijacked a tour bus.

Speaking before a debate by legislators calling for sanctions against the Philippines on November 5, Leung Chun-ying, Hong Kong’s leader, urged the Philippine government for a “concrete and timely response”.

“Unless, within a month, there are concrete steps taken to resolve this issue, the government will take necessary actions to apply sanctions,” Leung said without going into specifics.

Hong Kong and the Philippines have close economic ties, from tourism to more than 100,000 Filipino domestic helpers working in Hong Kong, but tensions continue over the incident. The tragedy happened in 2010 when a busload of Hong Kong tourists in Manila were taken hostage by disgruntled former policeman, Rolando Mendoza, who had just been dismissed.

Following a prolonged stand-off and negotiations, watched on live television by thousands in Hong Kong, the man opened fire after what the victims’ families maintain was a bungled rescue effort.

“I urge the Philippines government and/or the Manila municipal government to quickly come up with a proposal to respond to the families of the deceased and the requests of the injured,” Leung said.

Hong Kong has maintained a travel warning to the country since the episode, while the city’s legislators have mooted a cancellation of its visa-free arrangement for visitors from the Philippines as well as possible trade sanctions.

Another further sanction could be a freeze on domestic helpers. More than 160,000 Philippine nationals reside in Hong Kong, with most working as domestic helpers. Bilateral trade between the two countries totaled about $8.2 billion in 2012.

In October 2013, Joseph Estrada, Manila mayor, offered to issue an apology for the hostage-taking incident. But Philippine President Benigno Aquino has refused to make an apology on behalf of the country, insisting that the Philippines could not apologise for the crimes of one person, he reportedly said at the time. He has offered compensation of $75,000 to each family of the deceased and up to $150,000 to those injured. But the families involved in the hostage crisis have not accepted the money, saying the amount was too low.

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