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Duterte apologizes for deadly 2010 Luneta hostage incident

13 April 2018

President Duterte addresses the 2000 Filcom members at Kai Tak Cruise Terminal.

By Vir B. Lumicao
After nearly eight years since the tragedy, President Rodrigo Duterte apologized to the Chinese people on Apr 12 for the hostage-taking at the Rizal Park in which eight Hong Kong tourists died in a botched police rescue operation.

The President also assured overseas Filipino workers they don’t have to worry when they go home because they will be safe. He warned government officials and employees that he would kick them out if they steal from, or plant bullets in the luggage of “ordinary” travelers.

“If you go home now, sabi ko naman wala na yung bukas ang bag, wala na yung cream…sabi ko sa lahat, alam nyo  na iyan, huwag nyong galawin ang ordinaryong tao. Ang galawin nyo yung mayaman, yung milyonaryo, puwede pang magbigay iyan. Magtanim ka ng bala, p……mo, pakain ko sa iyo,” he said, eliciting applause.

But workers who were expecting to hear from him about the fate of Labor Attaché Jalilo dela Torre, were disappointed when the president made no mention of the controversial recall of the labor official.

Duterte spoke to more than 2,000 cheering supporters from the Filipino community in Hong Kong and other guests, including Chinese businessmen and local employment agency operators, at the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal in Kowloon.

“May I address myself to Chinese people who are here with us,” Duterte said, looking at groups of Chinese guests, some coming from Macau, who were seated in the fenced-off VIP zone in front of the stage.
Excitement builds up as some 2000 OFWs and other Filcom members wait for the arrival of President Duterte at the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal on April 12 for a meeting with Filipinos in Hong Kong.

“From the bottom of my heart, as President of the Republic of the Philippines and in behalf of the people of the Philippines, may I apologize formally to you now,” a somber-faced Duterte said with a bow at the podium.

“We are sorry that the incident happened and, as humanly possible, I would like to make this guarantee also that it will never, never happen again.”

His hour-long speech climaxed a five-hour, entertainment-filled program that began at 3pm and ended at past 8pm.

The Kai Tak event was also attended by Special Assistant Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano,  Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, communications officer Mocha Uson and presidential daughter Davo City Mayor Sara Duterte.

Also part of the Malacanang retinue were tourism officer Cesar Montano, movie actor Philip Salvador as well as newspaper columnist and TV personality Ramon Tulfo.

The gathering was billed as a forum where the President was to listen to problems and suggestions brought up by the mainly domestic helper OFW population of Hong Kong, but no such interaction took place.

Instead, it became a showcase for the likely candidacy in next year’s senatorial election of administration picks Go, Roque, and Bello, as well as Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos.

But only the youthful special assistant got an open endorsement from Duterte, who called him “my favorite senator Bong Go,” to the approval of most of the OFWs who packed half of the 850-meter-long cruise terminal.

Duterte flew into Hong Kong on Tuesday night from the Boao Forum for Asia annual economic summit in Hainan Province, on the sidelines of which he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Briefing the crowd on his latest trip to the mainland, he said the Chinese government has given the Philippines a 500 billion yuan (PhP4.125 billion) grant. He said the money will be spent on public hospitals and the rehabilitation of war-ruined Marawi City.

The President also said China is starting to look for 100,000 Filipino English teachers to meet demand in mainland schools.

Shifting to his promise to rid the country of drugs and criminality, he said he fired the first official he had appointed because of drugs, despite the help he had given to his presidential campaign.

Earlier, Roque announced what he described as “good news” – that starting in June this year, the workers’ children will no longer have to pay tuition in state universities and colleges.

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