Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sorry seems to be the hardest word

PNoy: No apology!
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I'm not a political blogger although the reason why we chose our cable subscription plan was because of ANC and the live coverages of senate hearings where the politicos' display their mudslinging and grandstanding acumen.

PNoy's statement on Tuesday about refusing to issue a public apology a year after the Manila hostage tragedy got my fingers itching to write a post on the matter. I beg your indulgence.

A year ago, disgruntled police officer Senior Police Inspector Rolando Mendoza hijacked a tourist bus and held hostage its 25 passengers; 21 HK nationals and four Filipinos. According to Mendoza he wanted his job back as he was dismissed from service without due process over allegations of planting evidence and extortion. To cut the long story short, negotiations broke down after 11 hours. Mendoza seemed to have had enough. More than ten people were wounded; eight tourists died.

After eleven hours of negotiation - chaos, gunshots, death.  
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“Again we deeply regret what has transpired. The apology connotes that the State did them grievous harm, I don’t think that is correct. This was the act of one man," Aquino told reporters after inspecting the Philippine Navy warship "BRP Gregorio del Pilar" in Manila.

“We really wish it did not happen. We hope we had performed better at that point in time but in the same token that in no way that this tragedy would have been prevented because of a lone, solitary deranged gunman," he said. (
After the tragedy, the government formed a fact-finding body to investigate and make recommendations as to who did and didn't do their job. Ties between Hong Kong and the Philippines were strained, some HK nationals called for their countrymen to stop hiring Filipino workers. Families of the hostage victims flew to Manila on Monday to commemorate the first year of the tragedy. They still look shaken after losing their loved-ones in a what was supposed to be a harmless vacation to the Philippines. Aside from the public apology, the victims and their families asked our government for monetary compensation, prosecution of officials who were responsible for the botched negotiations and to implement reforms that will ensure the safety of tourists visiting the country.

So far, PNoy has extended sympathy to the families. How noble.

According to the President, he will not issue a public apology because the tragedy was caused by a lone "deranged" man who hijacked a busload of tourists.

Pardon me Mr. President but is this the way you intend to steer the Philippines and your "bosses" the Filipino people towards "daang matuwid"??? If I remember clearly, few days after the tragic incident some high ranking government officials pleaded with Hong Kong not to ban or send home our OFWs and assured their government that you will see to it that those who failed to to their job during the negotiations will face prosecution? Where have all those promises gone? Is this how we want to promote the Philippines and our "more than the usual" vacation spots. Yes, getting your bus hijacked and then killed after eleven hours of negotiations definitely is more than the usual.

The tourists were killed on Philippine soil by a former police officer desperate for a chance to clean his name. He is no hero I agree. But the culpability should not only be blamed on the "deranged" man, as PNoy referred to him. The president, the highest ranking elected government official in the land of white sandy beaches and turquoise blue waters should stand on the plate and be ready to at least allay the pain these HK families have been going through for a year now. Reforms should be put in place to protect the interest of the tourists, officials who failed on their duties should be sanctioned and face trial. I'm not sure the Philippine coffers can make an acceptable monetary compensation. I don't think we are in a position to show haughtiness especially that we are so eager to welcome tourists. An apology is not a sign of weakness, it does not make Philippines or PNoy less in the international arena. Instead, it shows that as a people and as a country, we know how to answer for the uncertainties that befall each national that sets foot on our soil.

Sorry really seems to be the hardest word.

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