from luneta to china

In his first public response to the sanctions, Mr. Aquino said he had no plans to apologize, saying that doing so could create a legal liability and noting that China had not paid compensation to the families of Filipinos who have died in episodes there.

“legal liability…” googled it and, yes, it would seem that apologizing would / could mean admission of guilt, which could be used against the apologizer should the hostaged hongkong survivors and victims’ families take the ph government to court for redress.

hmm.  kaya pala ayaw mag-apologize ng presidente.  in a court of law, baka maobligang magbayad ng just compensation at maparusahan ang mga nagkasala.  but in the court of public opinion, lusot na lusot, especially now, given filipino disgust at china’s aggressive moves on philippine terrritory.  in comment threads on mainstream news and social media sites, parang mas maraming aprub kaysa di-aprub sa pagmamatigas ni aquino, kesyo, tama, wag magpa-bully sa hong kong/china, kesyo it’s a matter of national pride, apologizing would be a sign of weakness.

but, really, it doesn’t mean that we, who believe the president should apologize, are wrong.  what’s wrong is to think that the two occasions in beijing when filipino tourists were killed are comparable to the almost 10 hours hostaging and eventual killing of 8 and wounding of 7 hong kong tourists in luneta.  alex magno is right:

The first incident involved an accidental death caused by a wayward vehicle. The second incident involved the killing of two Filipinos by a seriously deranged man (subsequently executed for the crimes).

Neither involved acts of official neglect or incompetence. They cannot be compared to the official failings during the Luneta incident, which our own fact-finding committee established. That committee’s recommendation for charges to be filed against former Manila mayor Alfredo Lim and others have been blissfully ignored by Malacanang.

as far as the aquino admin is concerned, it has already done daw its utmost best to address the issue.  this was the official reaction of the DFA sec to news that govt officials will now have to obtain visas to travel to hong kong:

“The sanction is unfortunate because a substantive closure on the Quirino Grandstand incident has been arrived at three years ago with the previous Hong Kong SAR government and the victims as well as their families,” DFA spokesperson and Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez said in a statement he read to reporters.

Hernandez said that a renewed appeal for compassion was made to the government in October 2013 and it responded by offering “additional tokens of solidarity” that were pledged by Filipinos “at the behest of the Philippine government.”

“These amounts that are being offered are substantially more than those that have been previously accepted by the victims and their families. We have been made to understand that the victims and their families have agreed to this offer,” he said.

But Hernandez said the Hong Kong SAR government responded by opening a “total renegotiation’ to seek a demand for an apology over the deaths of its citizens. He said the Philippines, as a sovereign nation, “is not prepared to consider” this demand.

“Our nation has already expressed its deepest regret and condolences over the incident and we are preparing to reiterate this,” Hernandez said.

He said the government “remains 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 … as soon as possible.”

“We would like to assure the Filipino people that the Philippine government has done its utmost best to address the Quirino Grandstand issue,” Hernandez said.

what intrigues me is that i can’t find any source specifying exactly how much the hong kong victims are asking for and exactly how much the philippine government and/or its supporters have paid or offer to pay.  the only figure i get from googling is the 120M that erap was offering to raise, and i have no idea if that’s anywhere close to what is just compensation.

surely we can find the money for this.  if we can find the money to keep the patronage system alive by awarding senators and congressmen millions (billions?) in pork barrel funds and in generous salaries and allowances and bonuses every year, surely we can find the money to do right by the victims.  it is the honorable thing to do.

or is it that the bigger problem is that the prez cannot abide the idea of disgracing his incompetent subordinates because kabarkada, or political ally since cory times?  or basta, hindi lang sanay mag-sorry pag nagkamali?  o hindi lang sanay umamin pag nagkamali?

whatever, i can’t help wondering, what if the president had apologized right away?  would china be a little less offensive over in the west philippine sea?  maybe not.  china seems to be preparing to just take it over, “china sea” or bust, and seems to be testing limits all around.

interestingly, aquino’s hitler jibe could not have come at a better time, almost synchronous with america finally speaking out and criticizing china’s maritime claims, while talks on “temporary” facilities promise to continue, and u.s. warships arrive in manila and cebu ports, and who knows where else, soon after.

parang coordinated.  and i suppose it makes sense.  the hitler analogy may be flawed, but like peter beinart of the atlantic says,  it at least recognizes the magnitude of the stakes. 


  1. I beg to disagree with Alex Magno’s view that the Luneta incident was due official failings as declared by the fact finding committee.It was established that a chain of command that there was was official Crisis command center set by the city mayor and was operational and in control on the ground with the presence of the PNP special forces. In addition, the efforts of Vice Mayor Moreno to seek a guarantee letter from ex-Ombudsman Mercedes Gutierez to address the grievances of Mendoza proved a Crisis management set up. What spoiled and proved fatal was the INTERVENTION of the private media specially that GMA anchor man Tulfo, if I am not mistaken, who violated the news blackout coverage to prevent emotional hysteria and triggered the massacre. Therefore, Pinoy is justified in ignoring the request of HK authorities for apology since the failure was due to media’s
    irresponsible acts to grab media mileage without considering the safety of the hostage victims. I am saddened that regardless of the legal and moral implications of an apology, some critics do not value the self respect that we should deserve by not allowing the foreign govt dictate the humiliation of our leadership regardless who is sitting in Malacanang to guard our own interest.

  2. manuel buencamino

    The statement from the DFA exposes Beijing’s hand, it is using the Luneta tragedy as another tool to force Aquino from pursuing the Panatag case.

    The pressure is on again because there is a filing deadline this March and Beijing is trying to bully the Philippines into missing it. Threats are not only over sanctions from HK, Beijing can also tighten crews on trade and investment. Along with threats, Beijing is also dangling temptations like foreign investments, loans etc. if Aquino does not pursue the Panatag case.

    Beijing knows the world is watching and a loss at the UN court will have repercussions on its geopolitical strategy.

    HK is just a pawn. Everybody knows HK’s political leaders are nothing more than Beijing’s puppets.

    Aquino’s reply to Beijing should be – “Pinablotter ko na kayo sa UN. Doon na lang kayo sa prsinto magpaliwanag” or as they say in English, “See you in court, mothafuckas!”