Taiwan rejects "frivolous" response from Manila

Taipei, May 12 (CNA) Taiwan rejected Manila's latest response Sunday to the death of a local fisherman at the hands of Philippine law enforcement personnel as "frivolous," saying it was both "insincere and not helpful to finding a solution" to the standoff. If the Philippine government continues to respond in this manner, it "will have to pay a price for it", Presidential Office spokesperson Garfie Li said. Taiwan's foreign ministry also said that the statement by Abigail Valte, a spokeswoman for the Philippine Presidential Office, was "unacceptable" as it did not contain a formal apology. In a statement issued late Sunday, the ministry reiterated Taiwan's demands to the Philippines laid out on Saturday: issue a formal apology, compensate the victim's family for their loss, investigate the incident and punish the perpetrators, and open fishery agreement talks with Taiwan as soon as possible. Li made the remarks shortly after Valte issued a statement offering the Philippines' "deepest sympathies and condolences" to the family of the victim, 65-year-old fisherman Hung Shih-cheng, who was shot and killed by Philippines uniformed personnel on May 9. In the statement, Valte noted the Philippine envoy to Taiwan, Antonio Basilio, had offered his apologies to the fisherman's family in person. "Basilio did apologize two days ago," Li said. "But the Philippine Presidential Office at the time denied there was an apology." "As a result, Taiwan did not take Basilio's apology as official. President Ma Ying-jeou therefore demanded an official response before midnight Tuesday," she added. Tensions between Taiwan and Philippines have risen over the shooting, which Valte said had occurred during an "anti-illegal fishing patrol" by a Philippine law enforcement vessel "within the maritime jurisdiction of the Philippines." She said the fishing vessel Hung was on -- the Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28 -- was "reportedly poaching in the area." Taiwan, on the other hand, maintained the incident took place in an overlapping economic zone of the two countries, some 170 nautical miles off southern Taiwan. Taiwan threatens to suspend the importation of Philippine labor, recall its representative in Manila, and ask the Philippine envoy to Taiwan to return to his home country, unless the Philippines meets Taiwan's demands by the 72-hour deadline. In related news, prosecutors on the case issued an official request to the Philippines Sunday for permission to send investigators there and confiscate weapons used by Philippine fishery personnel during the shooting incident. (By Lee Shu-hua and Scully)