Filipinos suffer economic sanctions because Philippine President Noynoy Aquino refuses to apologize to Hong Kong

Hong Kong has finally made good on their threat to impose economic sanctions on the Philippines and cancel the visa-free access for Filipinos three years after the deaths of eight Hong Kong nationals touring the Philippines back in 2010.

President BS Aquino: Covering for his friends who bungled the hostage crisis?
President BS Aquino: Covering for his friends who bungled the hostage crisis?
Big deal, right? Judging by the number of Filipinos who reacted with outrage over the news, of course it is a big deal. A lot think that Hong Kong is resorting to bullying tactics. Some are even saying that the sanctions could be Mainland China’s brainchild. Never mind that Philippine President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino’s lack of diplomatic skills is part of the reason the Philippines has a tense relationship with a few of our South East Asian neighbors, not just Hong Kong. The economic sanctions are a real achievement under BS Aquino’s government.

There are Filipinos who strongly support the notion that the whole country should not be punished for the act of one homicidal maniac. But is it really just the fault of one man? Not according to the official reports conducted by the Incident Investigation and Review Committee (IIRC).

Let us cut to the chase. The Philippine government is currently in no position to play games when it comes to dealing with any of its ASEAN neighbors especially since the Philippines is still very much dependent on Filipino overseas foreign workers to sustain its economy. After all, Hong Kong is temporary home to some 100,000 Filipino domestic helpers and is still one of the favorite holiday and shopping destinations of the Filipino people not just for its proximity and affordability but also for its sights and sounds. If Filipinos do not want to be “bullied”, they should not put themselves in a position where the other party has the upper hand.

Unfortunately, the patience of lawmakers on the island on China’s south coast have finally run out after waiting for three years for a formal apology from the Philippine government. Hong Kong lawmakers must have thought that their issuance of a top-level black travel alert for the Philippines was not enough to compel the Philippine President to consider admitting the country’s shortfall during the botched hostage rescue operations. Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada’s apology was apparently also not enough to pacify the angry Hong Kong lawmakers and particularly the family of the victims.

Fatal incompetence: Manila SWAT team in action in 2010
Fatal incompetence: Manila SWAT team in action in 2010
Some people do find it strange that BS Aquino is not willing to accept that the country’s obligation to protect foreign nationals in Philippine territory has failed. Likewise, he is not willing to accept that the hostage crisis was bungled due to a combination of the incompetence and lack of coordination among various government agencies.

The members of the Manila SWAT team who complained about not being able to see inside the bus to assess the situation because they did not even have flashlights, were “not only ill equipped but they were not trained in different kinds of situations”:

There was lack of equipment on the part of Manila SWAT to handle the situation. Although they had their basic weapons such as their armor vest (the effectiveness [of which] are already in deep question), their rifles, pistols and Kevlar helmets but still by standards, these are not adequate to address the hostage crisis situation. It is very evident that they were not even carrying with them flashlights but all of the time they were reporting and complaining that the interior of the bus was dark. The lack of equipment already put the breaching operation into a compromise. The element of surprise was gone that resulted into a stall that lasted for sometime thereby endangering lives. The doubt regarding the effectiveness of their armor vest contributed to the apprehension of the SWAT members to rush inside the bus during the assault.

The Manila SWAT was not only ill equipped but they were not trained in different kinds of situations. In fact they had to rehearse on the very day of the hostage situation. The trainings of the Manila SWAT as provided by the Manila Police District are not updated and simulated operations were conducted, if ever conducted, was a long time ago. They don’t even know the serial numbers of their guns at an instant query. They train on their own personal account. Skill acquired through trainings diminishes after some time and needs to be constantly updated.

Overstepped the bounds of responsible journalism: Erwin Tulfo
Overstepped the bounds of responsible journalism: Erwin Tulfo
The situation was made worse by the narcissism and arrogance of some members of the mainstream media. Like I said before, members of the media should also be held liable for the deaths of the Hong Kong tourists because their continued coverage of the hostage taker’s brother Gregorio Mendoza while in police custody triggered Rolando’s attack on the tourists inside the bus. It seems the journalists wanted their 15 minutes of fame judging from the way reporter Erwin Tulfo wriggled his way inside the cordoned area with a cameraman in tow even when hostage taker Mendoza specifically asked for a female reporter and, more importantly, even when he wasn’t supposed to be there. Even radio reporter Michael Rogas of Radio Mo Network (RMN) took it upon himself to occupy the only line of communication available to the hostage taker, Mendoza’s cell phone, despite him not being an official hostage negotiator.

Filipinos who are crying foul over Hong Kong’s economic sanctions on the Philippines should read the IIRC report. It is easily accessible through the Internet even by the relatives of the eight Hong Kong tourist and Hong Kong lawmakers who have the power to make life for Filipinos who want to work and visit Hong Kong very difficult. The report highlighted the insensitivity and negligence on the part of then Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim. Here are some excerpts:

Former Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim with President BS Aquino in happier times
Former Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim with President BS Aquino in happier times

Mayor Alfredo Lim

As Chairman of the local CMC which exercised jurisdiction over the crisis incident, Mayor Lim failed to properly activate the CMC and render it fully functional to respond to the crisis as required under existing protocol. Based on existing guidelines, the CMC is charged with the responsibility “to take decisive action in emergency situations” and to integrate and orchestrate “government, military/ police and public efforts towards the prevention and control of (the) crisis incident” (4.3.1, 4.3.3, Crisis Management Manual).

Mayor Lim failed to observe the appropriate degree of attention required by the gravity and highly-volatile nature of the crisis, involving the hostage-taking of 21 foreign nationals, 3 Filipinos and one local Chinese by a fully-armed and distressed police officer, evincing gross failure to accord due importance to his role and responsibilities as head of the CMC in addressing the crisis.

As head of the CMC, Mayor Lim’s conduct bespeaks of a weak, if not anemic, response to the hostage-taking crisis, unmindful of its gravity and the urgency of its resolution as every moment of delay in ending the crisis increases the risk to the safety of the hostages, mostly foreign nationals, and the damage to the image of the country before the international community.

As such, Mayor Lim’s subsequent orders to handcuff, arrest and forcibly take SPO2 Gregorio Mendoza to “Tondo” was completely unjustified, improper, reckless and contrary to established protocols in negotiations. At that time, Mayor Lim was fully aware that the situation in the bus was turning extremely volatile in light of Mendoza`s outright rejection of the Ombudsman letter and his hostile action in firing his gun to express his frustrations with the negotiators whom he accused of having fooled him.

It was the height of irresponsibility for the Chairman of the CMC to abandon the command post and take along with him the ground commander to Emerald Restaurant on the lame justification that he was hungry and nothing was happening yet (“wala pang nangyayari”). At that time, the protracted 8-hour negotiation had already collapsed after the hostage-taker rejected the Ombudsman letter and resorted to a hostile action by firing his gun, indicating a highly-agitated mental state and obviously warranting close attention and immediate measures to prevent further deterioration of the situation.

The IIRC report also highlighted the incompetence and lack of urgency on the part of then Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Rico Puno:

President BS Aquino's 'shooting buddy': Undersecretary Rico Puno
President BS Aquino’s ‘shooting buddy’: Former Undersecretary Rico Puno

Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Rico Puno

It is the conclusion of the Committee that, the improper assumption by Usec. Puno of the functions of the Secretary of DILG as the chairman of the National Crisis Committee, in the light of his admitted lack of training and experience, may have compromised the readiness of the national CMC to take over the responsibility when it became apparent that the local CMC could not properly handle the hostage situation. That readiness could have been the immediate answer to the worsening situation. Puno’s failure to call upon the other members of the national CMC to be on standby reflects this lack of capacity. While he may have good intentions, rules must still be followed, and the organizational structure of the national CMC must be maintained.

It is worth mentioning that Lim who is a friend of the Aquino family and Puno who is a close friend of BS Aquino, both belong to the President’s political party. Everyone should know by now how protective the President is of his friends and allies. No wonder Hong Kong’s request that officials who were negligent during the hostage crisis be made accountable will simply be ignored and dismissed. It should come as no surprise then why President BS Aquino refuses to apologize.

Filipinos who want to support the President’s stand on this issue should accept Hong Kong’s sanctions. They should avoid crying foul and acting like losers by speculating about China’s hand in Hong Kong’s decision. It’s an entirely separate issue from the ongoing standoff over the Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal. They should be careful about further angering the Chinese people with baseless accusations that could make them add further economic sanctions.

[Photo of Alfredo Lim with Noynoy courtesy GMA News.]


Post Author: Ilda

In life, things are not always what they seem.

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123 Comments on "Filipinos suffer economic sanctions because Philippine President Noynoy Aquino refuses to apologize to Hong Kong"

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Jerry Lynch
Aquino needs to apologize for being President of a country with a police force that is about as efficient as a tuna net trying to catch sardines. Even the police “tuna net” here can never even catch the really big tuna such as Ruben Ecleo Jr. and the brothers from Puerto Princessa, the three of whom have been dubbed “the BIG 3” with rewards of P4 million placed on their heads. I have personally told numerous PNP officials that I know the whereabouts of Ecleo and I want my reward, but they are either too stupid to listen to me… Read more »

Like you said Ilda, Filipinos need to develop a sense of shame or guilt like the Japanese but not in the extent that they should kill themselves of course.


Ultimately, PNoy and the non-apology people are coming from that on trait that I am so sick and disgusted of hearing about: PRIDE. Logically, we can see that the national government was at fault here but no, we have to assign unfounded speculations instead of manning up and apologizing. For the nth time, we can’t see the forest for the trees. STUPID PRIDE.


Please put a stop to this embarrassment and let’s issue that apology now!!
We bungled the rescue with our Keystone Cops, Lim got hungry and took a break to eat, people got killed, responding ambulances were poorly equipped… The list goes on and on. Tama na!


PNoy is right. The country is not involved by a crime committed by one man. This is their loss, not ours.

Lim is a weasel, it was his job to apologise. Rico Puno stole the Peso’s fir NCR cops bulletts. Face it, the Philippines wants to be world class but the thievery taking place is making proper military assault training of police professionals impossible. Mendoza throwing the tear gas canister back at the SWAT team was just as tragic as it gets, and those people should not have died. foreigners beware, you won’t like the way you are treated in the Philippines. Just ask the hostages, oh wait, ya can’t…coz their dead! Whatta dump Manila is. Lim is a POS, and… Read more »

joe america makes good points here in his article on the issue:


After reading I still feel that regardless whether an apology should be made or not I think it is more interesting to know what actually happened to the people responsible for this tragedy (like the media, officer in charge of the operation, etc)?

Okay maybe there are valid points to not issuing an apology to Hongkong but the least our President could have done is have these people take some responsibility. And I think that our President has some responsibility too because some of the people involved are under him.


hongkong has an aging population and low birth rates. they will be weeded out and become extinct so who cares why should we kneel down to them?


When it comes to the USA than Filipinos become sensitive loud mouth right fighters. When it comes to China than Filipinos become the opposite. China is a bully and Filipinos fear it. What is the moral of the story?
Treat Filipinos nice and they will abuse you or don’t be nice just abuse them, make them fear you and they will respect you.


The Norwegian government apologized to it’s people for it’s incompetence in handling the Breivik 2011 attacks. So why can’t we apologize for the government’s incompetence as well? Not a single soul has been made accountable for the handling of the tragic event.


This is certainly bad news for me, since I have already made reservations months ago for the ticket and the hotel to Hong Kong. For this issue to creep up again just spoils the fun, I guess I made a dumb mistake then which really sucks because my mom and dad were so looking forward to the trip. I guess next time I will book elsewhere then. Thank you to our esteemed government 😀 You’re the best! PROUD TO BE PINOY WOOHOO~!

Getting that out of the way, I’d like to hear your opinions on these ones..I think it is still on-topic with the issues about Hong Kong and Philippines. I guess as much as we have issues here with our government and representatives well, they’ve got issues of their own too. In one of the articles there, I believe it says some of the politicians are using this tragic issue for their own ends, given the declining popularity of some of their leaders in which it’s just about the same as with our own leaders..and because of this..both people of these… Read more »

I don’t understand why the country is making enemies left and right when it is not even capable of protecting the interests and safety of its people. What now? Are they going to cry to Uncle Sam because Hong Kong is being a big meany to them?

Some say an apology is not needed. Perhaps. But I say Filipinos in authority should admit that they bungled things, and actually part of that bungling owes itself to corruption (such as protecting Puno, who earlier admitted to corruption). So if we kowtow to those who say an apology is not needed, Aquino can certainly admit failings on the Filipino side this without apology. All it needs is a dropping of the “Pride” we are notorious for and the heart to say, “we have shortcomings.” Problem is, all that he did right after that infamous event happened displayed the classic… Read more »
I’m sure the Yellow propagandist goes by the name of ‘honesto’ will rustle his jimmies when he reads this: “Anybody that says Pnoy shouldn’t apologize for the slaughter of a bunch of Foreign Tourists in Manila, by a former Philippines National Police Officer, in Uniform (which the authorities never took off him after he was fired) using Police Issued Firearms (which the Authorities never took off him after he was fired) because of the Government inexcusable incompetence and bungling during the entire operation….are complete idiots! All you who equate this to the random act of a sole lunatic in China… Read more »

Damn it, Noynoy! I wanted to go to Hong Kong again in peace! >.<


I think HK is not really asking us to apologize. I think what they really want is justice. After the bungled operation, Pnoy should have jailed tulfo and rogas for “crossing the line”. They should have taken out Lim as mayor and gave Puno some sort of a sanction, they should have taken out the whole police force…pNoy should have admitted himself in a mental ward for giving that awfully awful smirk during inspection…


Wait anong nangyari doon sa mga tao pinadala ni Erap? I thought all was good already.

Bum Aquino

The idiots: Pinoy Aquino was hiding in a closet in Malacanang. Alfredo Lim was feasting in the Emerald Restaurant. The SWAT Team tried to enter the door of the bus.
A lone SWAT sniper with night vision or heat scanner vision would had killed the insane policeman.
The U.S. Navy Team seal rescued the Captain of a hijacked ship that way. By killing the hostage takers (Somali Pirates).

“There was lack of equipment on the part of Manila SWAT to handle the situation.” There’s always lack of equipment in every Philippines Government agency. From Political leaders to agency officials down to almost every government employee is a thief and an arrogant liar. There’s an evil kind of spirit that possesses almost every person that is employed by the Philippine government whether directly or indirectly. Almost everyone of them have the same facial and gesture aura that by just looking at their faces one could almost be certain that the person he’s looking at is a government personnel. They… Read more »