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Albay lawmaker warns gov’t of worse sanctions from HK

/ 06:05 PM February 04, 2014

Albay Representative Al Francis Bichara. Facebook photo

MANILA, Philippines – A lawmaker believes the government should have apologized earlier to Hong Kong over the botched hostage-taking crisis three years ago.

Albay Representative Al Francis Bichara said at a press briefing Tuesday that it would be more shameful if the government waits for worse sanctions from Hong Kong before it apologizes.

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“We could have done that earlier because apparently we cannot always say that is the fault of the police captain. We’re part of the operations and we are partly to blame, also,” Bichara said when asked if the government should give in to Hong Kong’s demands.

“Kung hihintayin pa natin na maipit tayo, mas lalong nakakahiya (It would be more embarrassing if we wait for things to get worse before we apologize),” he added.

Bichara made the statement after Hong Kong suspended the current visa-free arrangement for visiting Philippine diplomats and officials. The sanction will start on February 5.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said the government may take more action if it thought it could be “effective” in securing an apology over the hostage-taking.

Hong Kong is infuriated as the Philippines refused to apologize for the act of a disgruntled police officer who hijacked a tourist bus boarded by its nationals in 2010.  Eight Hong Kong tourists were killed because of a botched police operation.

Since the crisis, relations have soured between the Philippines and Hong Kong, home to some 180,000 Filipinos mostly working as domestic helpers.

For his part, Parañaque city Rep. Gus Tambunting said he disagrees that the Philippines should apologize to Hong Kong.

He added that the issue has become too one-sided and that Hong Kong’s sanction is too much a “punishment.”

“Bakit tayo hihingi ng tawad sa kanila? Kung may nangyari ba sa ating mga kababayan sa kanilang lugar, ang ating bansa ba ay humihingi (ng patawad) at sila’y mag-sorry sa atin?” he said.

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(Why should we apologize? If something happens to a Filipino in their country, are we going to demand an apology from them?)

“Palagay ko masyadong one sided at masyadong mabigat ung kanilang naging ‘parusa’ kung ito’y tatawaging parusa,” Tambunting added.

(I think this is too one-sided and it is too heavy a punishment if it can be called that)

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TAGS: Albay Representative Al Francis Bichara, Features, Global Nation, Hong Kong, Luneta hostage crisis
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