Aquino should reconsider and apologize to Hong Kong | Inquirer Opinion

Aquino should reconsider and apologize to Hong Kong

/ 08:21 PM February 09, 2014

How lamentable that President Aquino continues to reject Hong Kong’s demand that he apologize for the 2010 bus hostage crisis in Luneta, despite the Feb. 5 cut-off.

But how important really is that apology to both contending parties? To Hong Kong, denial of a formal apology constitutes a blatant dishonor to its dignity. The government and its people feel they were taken for granted, so much so that the blood of the eight people killed and the seven others wounded in a bungled rescue operation by the Philippine police force still cries out for justice. The defiance could make the grief even more painful over time (i.e., more than three years to date).

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To the Aquino administration, the Philippines is a sovereign nation and, therefore, need not consider the demand of a subordinate government. Furthermore, it was said that our Department of Foreign

Affairs had already expressed its deepest regrets and condolences over the incident, and is only willing to repeat the same thing.

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Based on a newspaper report (“Sorry, but still no apology,” Second Front Page, 1/31/14), President Aquino has maintained that “the tragedy was caused by the hostage-taker.” Appalling is the situation when a supposedly sovereign nation is found so helpless before a single hostage-taker!  How ironic too another declaration (during the Zamboanga standoff) that states “I am both the Commander in Chief and the President, therefore, at the end of the day, everything is my responsibility” (“P-Noy: I’m responsible for Zambo operations,” Front Page, 9/20/13). Then where is that much-asserted command responsibility during the hostage crisis?

The President should reconsider his decision and apologize. Doing so “could create a legal liability,”  Aquino said (“P-Noy rejects suggestions to issue apology to HK,” News, 2/6/14). But this matter should have been threshed out early on.

Hence, when Hong Kong decided to impose its diplomatic sanctions, there might not be much leverage for the Philippines to negotiate. The more than 160,000 overseas Filipino workers would suffer most. Spare them please!

If our President remains adamant in his stand, allow me to make that gesture (at least, through this letter) in behalf of all other Filipinos who share the same sentiment—for whatever it is worth. An apology could be the noble thing to do. There is power in humility. Forgiveness would perhaps be given when we finally admit our guilt as a nation. Somehow, it would be one step closer to healing.

Notwithstanding his shortcomings, former President Joseph Estrada is to be commended for recognizing the merit of an apology. He even dared to volunteer to do it himself. But what value is it to Hong Kong if it has been waiting in vain for the incumbent to be the one to do so?

—ARMANDO LIBRANDO ALPAY,

c/o [email protected]

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