MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte's apology to Hong Kong for the 2010 Manila hostage crisis may have been 8 years too late but it is still a very welcome development, a former envoy said Friday.
Former ambassador Apolinario Lozada Jr. said President Duterte's apology will not only improve the marred relations of the Philippines and Hong Kong but will also give protection to OFWs there.
"I am very happy that the President did it (apology) even if it's quite late. That's really one of the irritants until today between the Philippines and Hong Kong bilateral relations," he told ANC.
"I think he did it for the protection of our Filipino overseas workers in Hong Kong, where we have a lot of them," he added.
Duterte visited the Filipino community in Hong Kong after his trip to China for the Boao Forum where he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Former President Benigno Aquino III had just assumed his post in 2010 when the hostage crisis happened, wherein a disgruntled dismissed cop held hostage Hong Kong tourists inside a bus.
The whole incident, which was aired live on television, exposed weaknesses in the country’s police force. The crisis ended with the hostage-taker and 8 Hong Kong tourists dead.
Aquino refused to apologize for the incident, saying the act of one hostage-taker should not be construed as the act of the entire nation.
"That was inexcusable. We should have apologized from the beginning. I was quite disturbed when, in the time of President Aquino, he refused to apologize for reason that he did not find the Hong Kong leader equal to his standards," said Lozada.