‘I am here in Manila,’ says Almendras to belie Joseph Estrada
MANILA, Philippines – By Tuesday afternoon, it was clear that Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras did not accompany Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada to Hong Kong. He did not even leave the country.
“No, I am here in Manila and just had meetings,” Almendras said in a text message to media.
On Tuesday morning Estrada said in a televised interview that he was being accompanied by Almendras and Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Alan Purisima to Hong Kong to seek the forgiveness of the families and victims of the 2010 Hong Kong hostage crisis. He said it was a joint effort of the national and local government.
But Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. denied the claim made earlier in the day.
“Not true,” he told INQUIRER.net.
Nevertheless, Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said they welcome Estrada’s initiative.
“We certainly hope it will contribute to the national government’s efforts to achieve closure and a mutually satisfactory conclusion. Hopefully, makakatulong (it will help),” he said.
Malacañang had repeatedly explained that it would not apologize to the Hong Kong government for the actions of one man – hostage taker and former police officer Rolando Mendoza – offering compensation, instead, to the victims. However, Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-ying pointed out that it was the botched rescue operations that resulted in the death of eight Hong Kong nationals staying in the country as tourists.
Estrada, as mayor of Manila, has been offering the city’s apology to Hong Kong. It is not clear if Hong Kong will accept the apology coming from the local government and not the President of the Philippines.
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