Sunday, April 21, 2019

Philippines, Taiwan ties fragile

MANILA — Malacañang expressed hope on Saturday that the relationship between the Philippines and Taiwan would not be affected by the recent shooting incident involving the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) resulting in the death of a Taiwanese fisherman.

In an interview over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said that investigation has been ongoing on the incident.

“Hopefully, it won’t,” she said when asked of the possible effect on the relationship of the Philippines and Taiwan of the shooting incident.

The PCG personnel who were on board the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) vessel detected four foreign fishing boats off northern Philippines. When the Coast Guard personnel tried to board one of the Taiwanese fishing boats, another foreign vessel reportedly rammed the BFAR ship. Philippine authorities fired a warning shot, but the Taiwanese boat reportedly continued ramming the BFAR vessel. Another shot was made and a Taiwanese fisherman was hit, resulting to his death.

“The investigation is already underway by the PCG,” Valte said.

She said that some of the PCG personnel who were involved in the incident were relieved pending the investigation.

“At this point, what the PCG said is that they want a transparent and an impartial and objective investigation so it was just their standard...that they will not be able to cast doubt on the investigation that is being conducted by the PCG,” she explained.

Philippine Coast Guard shot dead Taiwanese fisherman
Family members cry around the body of Taiwanese fisherman Hung Shih-cheng after his boat, the Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28, arrived at Liuqiu port in Pingtung County, southern Taiwan, Saturday, May 11, 2013. Taiwan said that the Philippine Coast Guard opened fire Thursday on the 65-year-old fisherman in waters claimed by both governments. (AP photo)

President Ma Ying-jeou said on Saturday that Taiwan would consider sanctions against the Philippine government over the incident.

“We will definitely seek justice for our fisherman. We will not rule out the possibility of taking any kind of sanctions” against the Philippines, Ma said.

“The Philippines shot an unarmed fishing boat. This is very brutal and cold-blooded,” he said, reiterating Taipei’s demand for Manila to apologize, apprehend the killer and compensate.

The PCG acknowledged that its personnel had opened fire on the Taiwanese boat, but said they acted in self-defense.

"They were forced to fire the shots because the fishing vessel attempted to ram them," said coast guard chief Rear Admiral Rodolfo Isorena.

Quoting an initial report reaching the Malacañang, Valte said the PCG personnel on board the vessel of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) merely reacted on the attempt of one of the four Taiwanese fishing boats to ram on the Philippine’s ship.

The Filipino Maritime Control Surveillance 3001 vessel spotted four Taiwanese fishing vessels about 43 nautical miles east of Balintang Island, which is well within the Philippines’ 200-mile economic zone, around 10:30 a.m. Thursday while on law enforcement patrol.

Valte said that the Philippine government would wait first for the result of the investigation. (SDR/CVB/VR/Sunnex/AP)
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