According to Hong Kong-based solicitor John Clancey, two survivors of the hijacking who suffered bullet wounds, as well as the mother of slain victim Maria Tse Ting-chunn, are suing the Philippine government. Also named in the suit are eight Philippine officials, some now retired, whom the suit describes as being responsible for what went wrong on Aug. 23, 2010, after a disgruntled ex-police officer hijacked a bus full of Hong Kong tourists and held them hostage during a 12-hour stand-off.
The Philippine consulate was closed Friday and could not be reached for comment.
A Hong Kong inquest concluded in 2011 that Philippine authorities contributed to the tourists’ death by bungling negotiations with the hostage-taker and delaying medical treatment for victims who might otherwise have been saved.
After repeated petitioning by Hong Kong officials and the victims’ family members, the mayor of Manila apologized this week to relatives of the victims and survivors. The Philippine government has never apologized for the incident, though elsewhere in the region this month, the government offered an apology to Taiwan over the fatal shooting of a fisherman by the Philippine coast guard.
On Friday, the third anniversary of the bus hijacking, Maria Tse’s brother Tse Chi-kin said the apology by Mayor Joseph Estrada wasn’t enough.
“We appreciate his attitude for finally taking responsibility for the government,” he said, “but they should also listen to our full demands, instead of just giving one sorry.” He also said that because Mr. Estrada took office only this year, he wasn’t even the appropriate individual to be apologizing.
The effort to sue the Philippine government—which Mr. Clancey expects could take anywhere from one to three years—faces a number of obstacles, he said, including getting permission from Hong Kong’s government to serve documents outside the city’s jurisdiction. Another obstacle is whether the Philippine government claims sovereignty as a defense, Mr. Clancey said.
In Hong Kong on Friday, online tributes for the victims flowed, with Facebook users sharing the image of a black ribbon accompanied with the text, “Never forget,” as well as the image of a Hong Kong flag with its colors transposed to black, with the date 10.08.23 appended.
“Our demands are very simple,” said Mr. Tse. “I believe anyone, if his family member got hurt, would fight for the same things as me.”
Since the hijacking, Hong Kong has maintained a “black” alert warning its residents against travel to the Philippines, a warning level on par with Syria.Source: “Hong Kong Survivors of Manila Bus Hijacking Suing the Philippines” – China Real Time Report – WSJ.– Te-Ping Chen
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