Manila defies HK’s demand for apology

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

MANILA -- Despite the diplomatic sanctions imposed by the Hong Kong government, the Philippines is unyielding in its refusal to issue an apology over the 2010 hostage crisis in Manila, wherein eight of the former's nationals were killed.

In a statement issued Thursday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it will still not be issuing an official apology as being demanded by the Hong Kong government despite the scrapping of visa-free access for all Philippine diplomatic and official passport holders.

"A total renegotiation has been opened by the Hong Kong SAR Government to seek a demand for an apology, which the Philippines, as a sovereign nation, is not prepared to consider," said the DFA.

Instead, the Philippine government said it will only reiterate its regret over the incident at the Quirino grandstand in Manila.

"Our Nation has already expressed its deepest regret and condolences over the incident and we are preparing to reiterate this," said the DFA.

The department added that the country is also committed to manifest compassion for the victims and their families and is "ready to turn over the additional tokens of solidarity from the Filipino people."

The DFA also said the government of the Philippines has not been remised of its obligation to bring justice to victims of the hostage incident.

"We would like to assure the Filipino people that the Philippine Government has done its utmost best to address the Quirino grandstand issue," said the DFA.

On Wednesday, the HK government announced its decision to scrap the visa-free access previously afforded for all Philippine diplomatic and official passports.

The decision stemmed over the continued refusal of the Philippine government to apologize for the tragedy, wherein a sacked police officer opened fire to his hostages composed mainly of Hong Kong tourists followed by a bungled rescue attempt by police authorities.

Meanwhile, the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) is confident that overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) will still be able to find employment opportunities in the special Chinese region.

In an interview, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said OFW deployment will not be feeling the impact of the decision of the Hong Kong government to scrap the visa-free access for all Philippine diplomatic and official passport holders.

"The new policy will have no impact on OFWs because the issuance of working visa stays, as only the 14-day free visa has been cancelled," said Baldoz.

Similarly, the labor chief related that there is also no looming sanction that will affect OFWs.

"I also checked with our Philippine Overseas Labor Office (Polo) in Hong Kong and was assured that there are no pending executive or legislative measures that would stop issuance of working visa for Filipinos," Baldoz said.

To note, the Hong Kong government is threatening to impose more sanctions if the Philippine government continues to refuse to issue an official apology over the tragedy.

And if it comes to a point wherein OFW deployment already stands to be affected, the Dole head assured that alternative markets are readily available for Filipinos who might lose their jobs in Hong Kong.

"There are various opportunities for our Filipino workers from Hong Kong because most of them are professionals like teachers and accountants," Baldoz noted. (HDT/Sunnex)

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