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PH-HK relations repaired, but families of victims still being courted

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MANILA, Philippines – It is only the beginning of the end. Malacañang on Thursday said that while the Hong Kong and Philippine governments have come to an agreement on the 2010 Manila hostage tragedy, they are still working on the concerns of the victims and their families.

“We’ve settled with the Hong Kong government. That issue is done. That is why the Hong Kong government has lifted all the sanctions. But now we are addressing the individual concerns of the families,” Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras said in a televised press briefing.

The Philippine government and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China on Wednesday resolved the issues surrounding the tragic death of eight Hong Kong tourists during a botched hostage rescue in Manila in 2010. Hong Kong said it will also reinstate the 14-day visa-free arrangement for holders of diplomatic or official passports in the Philippines.

Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras. AP FILE PHOTO

Almendras admitted that the families had different concerns and demands but those present during their meeting on Wednesday expressed gratitude for what had so far been achieved.

“As we speak, the Hong Kong government is still interacting with the families who were not present there, letters are being delivered, documents are being turned over,” he explained.

Nevertheless, he said “by all indications” the parties involved will be able to reach closure on the subject.

The Cabinet Secretary said there are a series of agreements made in addition to the apology, although they promised to keep it confidential “because of the sensitivity of the families.”

All he said was that there were four issues discussed:  the apology, the token of solidarity, actions against “those who were negligent” and steps to prevent such incidents from happening again.

Almendras said not all families accepted the “token of solidarity” or compensation because of various reasons.

“They weren’t looking for an amount,” he said, explaining that families were looking for other forms of closure.

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