First Hong Kong hostage victim receives payout from Manila
James To (2nd-L), the lawyer representing victims of the Manila tourist bus hijacking, Tse Chi-kin (R), brother of slain tour guide Masa Tse, Yik Siu-ling (2nd-R) and another unidentified relative of a victim, in Hong Kong on August 11, 2011
The Hong Kong government came in for harsh criticism for sticking to its sanctions threat, even after the Philippines was left devastated by Typhoon Haiyan.
It is holding out for a formal apology from the Philippines over the hostage incident, which left eight Hong Kong tourists dead and seven injured after a former police officer hijacked a Manila tour bus.
But in a joint statement from the Hong Kong and Philippine governments, Philippine President Benigno Aquino agreed to give an undisclosed amount to 36-year-old victim Yik Siu-ling -- who lost more than half her jaw in the shooting.
"President Aquino, having heard of the urgent need of Ms Yik for surgeries, instructed (his cabinet secretary) to turn over to the HKSAR Government an additional token of solidarity to defray the cost of imminent surgeries," the statement, published Tuesday, said.
The compensation was donated from Filipino businessmen "as a manifestation of the Filipinos' humane consideration of the plight of the victims and their families", it said, without specifying the amount given.
Tse Chi-kin, whose tour guide younger brother Masa was killed, said Wednesday that the Philippines had "done the right thing" by giving compensation to Yik.
"It's necessary for her to have her surgery, it helps her to continue her life," he told AFP.
"I'm feeling positive on the negotiations because I think both governments have been trying to settle this issue as soon as possible."
"I hope the central and the Hong Kong government can continue to work hard and bring a reasonable resolution to the incident," Yik said, according to the South China Morning Post.
There has been no indication yet from Hong Kong that it will drop potential sanctions against Manila.
But a separate statement issued by the Hong Kong government Tuesday said Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying believed "substantive progress on the Manila hostage-taking incident" had been made, following a meeting in the city between Philippine Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras and senior officials.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer said that the nation's government was going to announce "very concrete" steps in finding a solution to address the victims of the hostage incident.
"I assure you, in a few days – in a day or two — the Philippines will prove that we are not insensitive to the plight of the victims or rude and that we want peace, with everyone working together without feuds," Almendras said, according to the newspaper.
Hong Kong's unpopular government is under pressure not to upset groups affected by the hostage situation.
Earlier in November, Leung said he would take "necessary actions to apply sanctions" if he did not see concrete steps taken to resolve the issue within a month.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino has previously refused to apologise on behalf of the country for the Manila hostage situation, insisting the deaths were primarily caused by the actions of the hostage taker.
Hong Kong's lawmakers have mooted a cancellation of its visa-free arrangement for visitors from the Philippines as well as possible trade sanctions.
The city said Friday it would contribute $5.16 million to a fund that could be used to help the typhoon-stricken Philippines.
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