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Friday, Apr 25, 2014

Asia

HK victims of Manila hostage drama to get $3.2m

Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN | Friday, Apr 25, 2014

This file photo taken on August 23, 2010 shows Philippine policemen taking position as they start their attack on the tourist bus hijacked in Manila. Hong Kong survivors of a Manila hostage crisis and families of those killed sued the Philippine government on August 22, 2013 to demand an apology and compensation, a day before the tragedy's third anniversary.

HONG KONG - Money raised by Chinese-Filipino businessmen and businessmen in Hong Kong who have interests in the Philippines was used in the compensation package for the victims of the 2010 Manila hostage tragedy, a Manila councilman said on Thursday.

Eight tourists from Hong Kong died in a botched police rescue of a busload of tourists taken hostage by a dismissed Manila policeman who also died in the incident. Seven others were injured.

Binondo Councilor Bernardito Ang, who also tried to negotiate with the victims and is here with former President and current Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, said no public funds were used for the compensation.

Ang said it was Hong Kong negotiators who suggested a total amount of HK$20 million (about S$3.2 million) but he added that he did not know if the businessmen-who formed the Hong Kong-Philippines Friendship Foundation-were able to raise that much money.

Solidarity fund

"It was the businessmen who organised this solidarity fund because they also want the relationship between the Philippines and Hong Kong to normalize, especially for those in the travel industry," Ang said in an interview.

"So, there is no government funding here," he added.

Cable TV News reported on Wednesday that the Philippine government would offer HK$1.5 million for each of the deceased and HK$3 million for the injured in a compensation package that would total HK$20 million.

But Ang said the Hong Kong government would be the one to decide how much each family would receive.

"We do not know how much each family would get because it will be the Hong Kong government that will allot to each victim depending on their injury," he said.

Negotiators' estimate

Ang said the HK$20 million was an estimate given by negotiators from the Hong Kong side.

"That was what they suggested for the settlement because the victims also need support and rehabilitation," he said.

"I do not know if (the HK$20 million) was raised. It would be the foundation that would be able to say that but many are helping," he added.

Estrada had a closed-door dinner with members of the foundation on Wednesday night at Four Seasons Hotel after Hong Kong and the Philippine government announced that their row over the hostage drama was over.

As a result of the deal, Hong Kong restored the visa-free visits by holders of official Philippine government passports.

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