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Opening remarks by CE at media session on Manila hostage-taking incident (with video)

     Following are the opening remarks by the Chief Executive, Mr C Y Leung, at a media session on the Manila hostage-taking incident at the ground floor lobby of the Office of the Chief Executive today (April 23):

     Since my meeting with the President of the Philippines in Bali, Indonesia, in October 2013, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) Government has been holding discussions with the Philippine Government to find a mutually satisfactory resolution to the four demands made by the victims and their families of the Manila hostage-taking incident, that is apology, compensation, sanctions against responsible officials and individuals, and tourist safety measures.

     Following the efforts in the past six months, I now announce that the two governments and the victims and their families have reached consensus on the resolution of the four demands.

     As stated in the joint statement just issued by the two sides:

     Firstly, the Philippine Government expresses its most sorrowful regret and profound sympathy, and extends its most sincere condolences for the pain and suffering of the victims and their families. The Police Director General of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines has written to all victims or their families.

     Secondly, regarding compensation, in the spirit of solidarity and in acknowledgement of the loss of the victims and their families, an additional token of solidarity will be given to the victims or their families as a most sincere gesture of compassion of the people of the Philippines.

     As regards sanctions, and this is the third point, as regards sanctions against responsible officials and individuals, the Philippine Government has provided the Hong Kong SAR Government details on the administrative and criminal proceedings pursued, and given the assurance that measures are being undertaken to hold to account those responsible and to conclude the outstanding proceedings as soon as possible. The Philippine Government undertakes to keep the Hong Kong SAR Government informed of progress made in resolving the outstanding proceedings.

     Fourthly, concerning tourist safety measures, the Philippine Government has assured the Hong Kong SAR Government that it is committed to ensuring that such an incident will not recur. The Philippine Government has also implemented a range of measures to guarantee the welfare and safety of those visiting the Philippines.

     The Mayor of Manila has also conveyed two resolutions passed by the City Council of Manila. Resolution No. 115 expresses the apology of the City Government of Manila for the incident, and Resolution No. 147 declares July 14 of the lunar calendar and August 23 of the Gregorian calendar of every year as days of prayer for the souls of those who died in the incident.

     Both the Hong Kong SAR and Philippine Governments have worked tirelessly in the past six months to seek a resolution to the matter. There were twists and turns in the process. Substantive progress was made in last November, but there remained a substantive difference between both sides. The Hong Kong SAR Government therefore implemented the first phase of sanctions with effect from the 5th of February, 2014. Thereafter, the two sides continued with the discussions and eventually reached a consensus today.

     I am grateful to our state leaders and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their concern and support. I also thank the victims and their families for their trust and willingness to work with us.  

     The resolution of the incident enables the normalisation of the bilateral relations between Hong Kong and the Philippines. I therefore announce that the sanction against the Philippines is lifted immediately. The 14-day visa-free arrangement applicable to holders of diplomatic or official passports of the Republic of the Philippines for visiting Hong Kong is reinstated.

     At the same time, since the Philippine Government has implemented a range of measures to guarantee tourist safety, I announce that the Black Outbound Travel Alert against the Philippines is lifted with effect from today. The Outbound Travel Alert that applies to the Philippines will revert to Amber, as was the case before the hostage-taking incident.

     It has been over three years since the Manila hostage-taking incident. Yet, the sufferings of the victims and their families remain close to our hearts. With the final resolution of the incident, I sincerely hope that the deceased may rest in peace, and the injured and their families can move on with courage and strength. I also believe that the bilateral relations between the peoples of Hong Kong and the Philippines will start a new chapter.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the opening remarks.)

Ends/Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Issued at HKT 18:49


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