FOR THE first time, President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday, April 12, made a public apology for the 2010 hostage-taking incident in Manila that killed eight tourists from Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China.

Acknowledging that it might take time to heal the wounds and repair the strained ties between the Philippines and Hong Kong, Duterte said all he could do is to apologize for the deadly hostage crisis.

"Let me, for the first time (address) the Chinese government and the people of China. I've always been waiting for this. There have been no official apologies coming from the Philippines regarding that incident that happened in August of 2010," the President said in a speech delivered before the Filipino community in Hong Kong.

"May I address myself to the Chinese people who are here or with us, who joined us. From the bottom of my heart, as the President of the Republic of the Philippines, and in behalf of the people of the Philippines, may I apologize formally to you now. We are sorry that the incident happened," he added.

Eight Hong Kong nationals died in Manila in 2010 after a disgruntled Filipino policeman hijacked a bus packed with tourists in a desperate attempt to be reinstated.

The victims and their families had demanded an official apology from the Philippine government.

In 2014, the Hong Kong government finally decided to lift the sanctions imposed against the Philippine officials.

Duterte gave assurance that his administration would do its best to ensure that such incident would not happen again.

"And as humanly possible, I would like to make this guarantee also that it will never, never happen again," the President said.

"This would go a long way to really assuage the feeling of the Chinese people because there's been no apology coming from the mouth. So I will do it. It happened during our time, this generation, so it's only right. Lives were lost under our jurisdiction. What is really needed is to say we're very sorry, we apologize," he added. (SunStar Philippines)