Philippine envoy to Taiwan back in Manila for 'important meeting'

Taipei, May 13 (CNA) The Philippines' representative to Taiwan, Antonio Basilio, has flown back to Manila for a meeting that is expected to discuss mounting tensions between the two countries after a Philippine attack on a Taiwanese fishing boat May 9. Basilio "returned to the Philippines in order to attend a very important meeting," said Foreign Minister David Lin Monday.
Lin said that according to his understanding, the meeting, to be held Monday afternoon, will focus on issues related to the attack, including Taiwan's demands for a formal apology and compensation. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Taiwan's representative to the Philippines, Raymond Wang, will stay in close contact with Basilio for updates on the situation, Lin said at a hearing of the Legislature's Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee. Fielding questions on the dispute by lawmakers, Lin said the Philippines is expected to give a clear response to Taiwan's demands Tuesday. The diplomatic row comes after a 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. A 65-year-old Taiwanese fisherman, Hung Shih-cheng, was shot dead in the incident. 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 will "immediately" suspend the processing of applications by Filipinos seeking employment in Taiwan and recall its representative to the Philippines, Lin said. Basilio visited the family of the deceased fisherman Saturday and offered an apology and his condolences after the damaged boat was towed back to Pingtung County, Lin said, but he noted that Taiwan is still demanding an official apology from the Philippine government. The foreign minister did not rule out the possibility that further action could be taken against the Philippines. Lin noted, meanwhile, that Taiwan has also been in touch with the United States on the incident and said the U.S. understands Taiwan's approach on the matter. (By Elaine Hou)