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Navy to have more frigates patrolling in waters south of Taiwan

Navy to have more frigates patrolling in waters south of Taiwan

Taipei, May 13 (CNA) Taiwan's Navy will send two more frigates to join ships already on patrol in waters south of Taiwan, following the recent attack by a Philippine government vessel on a Taiwanese fishing boat, a defense official said Monday. A Kidd-class warship and a Chengkung-class frigate will be dispatched to join the two frigates already patrolling the Bashi Channel, and they will be incorporated into a military exercise set for waters south of Taiwan on May 16, Deputy Defense Minister Andrew Yang said. The frigates will be sent to participate in the exercise and protect Taiwanese fishermen operating in the area, Yang said before attending a hearing of the Legislature's Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee. On Sunday, the Navy said it had dispatched a Lafayette-class frigate to help the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) fulfill its mission to protect Taiwanese fishermen. The CGA has three vessels patrolling the area at present. In addition to the Lafayette-class frigate, the Navy said it has a Knox-class frigate regularly patrol the waters south of Taiwan. The moves to beef up protection for the fishermen came after the Taiwanese boat, Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28, was strafed by a joint patrol of the Philippine Coast Guard and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources while operating in the overlapping economic zones of the two countries on May 9. A 65-year-old Taiwanese fisherman, Hung Shih-cheng, was shot dead in the incident. The Taiwan government has condemned the attack by the Philippines and demanded an official apology. Foreign Minister David Lin, who was also to attend the hearing, again described as "unacceptable" a statement on Sunday by Abigail Valte, a spokeswoman for the Philippine Presidential Office, because it did not contain a formal apology. Valte issued a statement offering the Philippines' "deepest sympathies and condolences" to the family of the victim, and she noted that the Philippine envoy to Taiwan, Antonio Basilio, had already offered his apologies to the fisherman's family in person. But that did not satisfy Taiwan's government. "In such a case, this kind of apology is not enough. We are asking for an official apology from their government to our government," Lin said, reiterating that Taiwan's four demands to the Philippines remain unchanged. Taiwan is asking the Philippines to issue a formal apology, compensate the victim's family for its loss, investigate the incident and punish the perpetrators, and open fishery agreement talks with Taiwan as soon as possible. If Manila does not issue an appropriate response by midnight Tuesday, the Taiwan government said it will suspend the processing of applications by Filipinos seeking employment in Taiwan, recall its representative to the Philippines and request that the Philippines' representative to Taiwan return to Manila. Lin also downplayed concerns that the Philippine government is more focused on the Philippine general election, being held today, than on Taiwan's demands. The Philippines is evaluating the matter carefully and is expected to make a clear response Tuesday, the foreign minister said. (By Elaine Hou)