Bishops score Aquino for refusing to say sorry to hostage tragedy victims
MANILA, Philippines—Two bishops on Wednesday expressed disappointment over President Benigno Aquino III’s refusal to give a formal apology to families of the victims of the bus hostage tragedy at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila last year.
“People were hurt, they lost their loved ones, why not say sorry?” said Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles over Church-run Radio Veritas Wednesday.
The archbishop was reacting to Mr. Aquino’s rejection of requests from families of the eight Hong Kong tourists, who were killed in the botched hostage rescue, for a personal apology from the Philippine president on Wednesday.
The victims’ kin flew to Manila Sunday night to commemorate the tragedy and raise several requests to the government.
On Wednesday, Mr. Aquino said he did not think it was right to offer an apology to the families of the victims as an “apology connotes that the state did them grievous harm.” He further added that the tragedy was an “act of one man” who should be blamed, not the government.
But Archbishop Arguelles on Wednesday surmised that in refusing to make an apology, Mr. Aquino did not want to admit the government’s incompetence during the hostage rescue.
“Our government doesn’t want to say sorry because they don’t want to admit its incompetence … our government officials cannot say sorry we were wrong because of pride or shame,” said Arguelles.
Also on Radio Veritas, Marbel Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez also on Wednesday urged Mr. Aquino yesterday to hold accountable those responsible for the botched hostage rescue, including Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, Undersecretary Rico Puno and Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim.
“What they did was not only wrong, but shameful,” said Gutierrez, referring to the way the government handled the situation last year. “[Mr. Aquino] should assume responsibility [because] he is the President,” he added.
Rolando Mendoza, a police officer who was dismissed on corruption charges, seized a tour bus of Hong Kong tourists noon of Aug. 23, 2010 in a bid to be reinstated.
The daylong hostage drama aired on television and radio ended with the police storming the bus and shooting Mendoza dead. But eight hostages were also killed during the rescue attempt.
Malacañang ordered an investigation into the botched hostage rescue but watered down the recommendations of the investigation panel, ordering merely minor penalties to four policemen and absolving senior officials accused of ineptitude and negligence.
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