President Aquino on Tuesday expressed deep regrets for the deaths of eight Hong Kong tourists in the botched hostage rescue drama at the Rizal Park exactly a year ago Tuesday, but rejected calls from the families of the victims for a formal apology.
“Apology connotes that the state did them grievous harm, I don’t think that’s correct,’’ he said in response to one of three demands made by a group of survivors and families of the eight who died, who were here to commemorate the first anniversary of the tragedy.
He said the tragedy was the “act of one man” who should be blamed and not the government, comparing the incident to last month’s attack by “deranged gunman” who killed 77 people in Norway.
On Aug. 23, 2010, Rolando Mendoza, a police officer who was dismissed on corruption allegations, seized a tour bus of Hong Kong tourists in a bid to be reinstated. Police stormed the vehicle and shot Mendoza dead, but eight hostages also died during the rescue attempt.
Malacañang ordered an investigation, but watered down the recommendations of the investigation panel, ordering only minor punishments to four policemen and absolving senior officials accused of incompetence and negligence.
Mr. Aquino said he understood the “hurt’’ felt by the survivors and families of the victims but also asked for their understanding because the Philippine government has made improvements and continues to do so.