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Taiwan investigators return from Philippines

President Ma chairs National Security Council meeting

Taiwan investigators return from Philippines

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A team of 17 investigators returned from the Philippines empty-handed Saturday after the authorities there refused to cooperate in the investigation into the May 9 shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman.
The death of Hung Shih-cheng, 65, on a fishing trawler in an area where the two countries’ exclusive economic zones overlap has raised tension between the two countries to an unprecedented level, with Taipei issuing a total of eleven types of sanctions against Manila, including a freeze on new Filipino workers.
On Friday, President Ma Ying-jeou accused the Philippines of “cold-blooded murder” as there was no way the shooting of an unarmed fisherman could be reasoned away by international law. Foreign Minister David Lin hosted an international news conference where he lashed out at Manila’s attempts to portray Hung as the aggressor and the Philippine maritime agents as people who acted in self-defense against the Taiwanese ship trying to ram them. The vessel, the Kuang Ta Hsing No.28, was not in Philippine waters and therefore should not have been forced to leave, Lin said.
The Taiwanese investigative team, which arrived in Manila Thursday in the hope of conducting a joint investigation, accused the Philippine authorities of behaving in an “arrogant” and “capricious” way.
The group had decided to return to Taiwan together later Saturday because Manila was too dishonest, said Chen Wen-chi, head of the Department of International and Cross-Strait Legal Affairs at the Ministry of Justice.
She showed a letter from Philippine representative in Taipei Antonio Basilio agreeing to a joint investigation by both countries twice, but Manila claimed it had not heard of the proposal. The shooting had been directed at the part of the fishing trawler where the four-man crew was hiding, showing intended homicide and a kind of behavior unfit for a civilized country, Chen said.
Manila should also stop its attempts to describe Hung as the villain without any evidence, she said, accusing the authorities of trying to cover up improper behavior.
The Philippines National Bureau of Investigation on Friday displayed 15 weapons found on board of the Philippine government vessel which might have been used in the shooting. Eleven crew members were still in detention in the Philippines.
According to an article on the web site of the newspaper The Philippine Star, investigators initially found that the government agents could have been acting in self defense, “but they may have violated certain rules of engagement.”
President Ma Ying-jeou chaired a meeting of the National Security Council later Saturday, reports said. A similar meeting launched an ultimatum against the Philippines after Hung’s death. Since Manila’s response was not deemed satisfactory, Taiwan went ahead with two waves of sanctions, which were likely to stay in place until the Philippines took the requested stance.
On Saturday, Ma again called for equal treatment by the Philippines. The government also denied that the investigative group would head for Manila again on Monday, saying it would first wait for more news from the Philippines before going ahead with another attempt at a joint investigation.
Taiwan wants Manila to offer a sincere apology, compensate the Hung family, track down and prosecute those responsible for the shooting, and move toward opening bilateral fishery talks. Taipei recalled its representative in Manila, Raymond Wang, while Basilio was ordered to leave Taiwan.
The Philippines accused Taiwan of not doing enough to protect the rights of Filipino workers after reports that some restaurants and market stalls refused to serve them. Ma, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin and opposition Democratic Progressive Party Su Tseng-chang called for respect for Filipino workers and residents. The incident was the fault of the Philippine government and of its agents on its vessel, not of the common citizens working overseas, Su said.
The opposition party said it had put a short film online under the title ‘All We Want Is Fair Justice’ which the public could distribute further in order to defend Taiwan’s views on the incident.
Lawmakers said they would launch a campaign to write letters to United States President Barack Obama’s web site to force him to voice an opinion on the dispute. Other legislators criticized Taiwan’s representative in Washington D.C., King Pu-tsung, of acting too slowly in trying to win support for Taipei.


Updated : 2021-10-16 23:02 GMT+08:00