The Philippine government has been urged to consider the filing of cases against those responsible in the bungled rescue operations during the failed Manila bus hostage incident that resulted in the death of eight Hong Kong nationals in 2010.
At the same time, Valenzuela City Congressman Win Gatchalian appealed to the Legislative Council of Hong Kong not to be too unforgiving and harsh on Filipinos working or visiting the Chinese autonomous region because of the failed rescue attempt in 2010 Manila bus hostage.
Gatchalian also urged Hong Kong to look into the long and faithful relationship of the Philippines and Hong Kong in a statement issued after Hong Kong officials voted to impose economic sanctions on the Philippines.
Last Wednesday, Hong Kong also agreed to cancel the privilege of a visa-free access for Filipinos visiting the territory.
“The issues surrounding the Manila bus hostage fiasco have been dragging for the past three years and no substantial progress has been made as far as filing of cases against those responsible in the ground operations is concerned,” Gatchalian said.
The Valenzuela solon added that if the Philippine government has no plans of making any apology, at least it should show it could at least satisfy the three other demands of the victims’ families as a gesture of good faith.
“I empathize with families and understand their frustrations. If the government cannot afford to compensate or apologize to the families of the victims, at least take a tough stance in penalizing those who were directly responsible in the tragic death of eight tourists,” Gatchalian reasoned out.
In a report prepared by an investigative panel in 2010, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has recommended filing of administrative and criminal cases against 10 people including police officers, elected and appointed government officials, and journalists.
Three years have passed but Malacanang has ignored the DOJ’s recommendations and the administration has yet to meet the demands of the victims’ families who are seeking justice.
Hong Kong legislators have threatened to ban Filipino domestic helpers, stop buying Philippine products, halt negotiations on air routes, and limit trade if the Aquino Administration will not pay attention and make concrete actions to the concerns of the families of the victims.
The proposed changes in immigration and trade policies by the Hong Kong legislature would directly affect 160,000 Filipino workers in the household service sector, and the 15,000 Filipino permanent residents and professional workers in Hong Kong.
Aside from the possible decline in remittances, the Philippines stands to lose close to $10 billion a year in bilateral trade alone.
“As a fellow legislator, I personally appeal to the Hong Kong legislature to treat the Manila incident as an isolated case. Economic and political relations should not be compromised just because of one man’s fault. The blunder of those responsible in the incident should not be blamed on the whole nation,” Gatchalian said.
According to Gatchalian, the Philippine government should likewise show its willingness to break the diplomatic deadlock with Hong Kong, noting that the most doable thing at the moment is to file cases against those who mishandled the crisis.
“The government must pursue to file cases against those who bungled the rescue operations. They should be punished regardless of their status in government and political affiliation,” the solon stressed.
He also advised the families of the victims in the August 2010 Luneta tragedy to seek redress in Philippine courts.
On Aug. 23, 2010, disgruntled police officer Rolando Mendoza hijacked a tourist bus in Manila, but a botched police rescue attempt resulted in the accidental killing of eight Hong Kong nationals.