Almost four years have passed since the tragic events of August 23, 2010 at Quirino Grandstand. It was a hostage situation gone horribly wrong as it resulted in the death not only of the perpetrator/suspect, but also of 8 tourists who came from Hong Kong.
It was a case of crisis mismanagement on the part of various parties, from the police to the local executives then of Manila, (especially the then “yellow” mayor of the city) as well as the concerned officials on the national level. It marked a new low in Philippine-Hong Kong relations as it resulted in getting the Philippines placed under the Hong Kong travel blacklist as well as the suspension of the visa-free entry privileges of Philippine officials and diplomats.
Hong Kong long stressed that the key in resolving this issue is a formal apology from the Philippine government for the handling of the situation. It was something the national government insisted it would not do, which was a factor why PH-HK relations went sour for almost four years.
But then some changes happened during the time, most notably in 2013 when former president Joseph Estrada defeated the then-incumbent “yellow” mayor in a tough electoral contest. With Estrada now as Manila mayor, he wasted no time in trying to rebuild relations with Hong Kong as he made an apology on behalf of the city for what happened.
At the same time, some talks have been going on behind the scenes as well as national government officials headed by secretary to the cabinet Rene Almendras as well as the Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima.
The efforts finally paid off when it was announced on April 23, 2014 that Hong Kong and the Philippines finally agreed to resolve the long-standing issue as the victims’ families accepted the “profound regret and sympathy” expressed by the Philippine government as well as an undisclosed sum in compensation.
With the issue finally resolved in a positive and peaceful manner, we look forward that this would usher in a renewed strengthening of ties between Hong Kong and Manila, notwithstanding of course the present troubles we still have with China.
with reports from the South China Morning Post