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President promises regular coastguard patrols to protect fishermen

President promises regular coastguard patrols to protect fishermen

Taipei, May 22 (CNA) Taiwan's Coast Guard will conduct routine patrols to protect the country's fishermen, President Ma Ying-jeou said Wednesday, vowing to prevent any recurrence of a May 9 incident in which a local fisherman was shot dead by Philippines maritime patrol personnel. Ma said, however, that Taiwan's Coast Guard operations will not involve any military drills. The government will make every effort to protect its fishermen, "anytime, anywhere," as long as they are operating in the country's exclusive economic zone, Ma said at a Kuomintang (KMT) meeting in Taipei where he was briefed by Foreign Minister David Lin on the latest developments in the wake of the incident. "Incidents such as the shooting will never happen again," said the president, who is also chairman of the ruling party. The fisherman, Hung Shih-cheng, 65, was shot dead in an encounter with a Philippines official patrol boat in an overlapping economic zone May 9. The incident sparked a public outcry and prompted government sanctions, as Taiwan continued to seek a formal apology, proper compensation for Hung's family, punishment of the perpetrators and a commitment to bilateral fishery talks to prevent similar recurrences. At the KMT meeting, Ma also sought to allay concerns about the safety of Filipinos in Taiwan amid reports of physical assaults on some Philippine workers after the shooting. The president said that immediately after the shooting, he instructed Taiwan's law enforcement units to protect Filipino expatriates against any harm or prejudice. "We are a civilized country," Ma said, calling on the public not to vent their "anger against the Philippines government on Filipinos in Taiwan over the injustices." He said he hopes the diplomatic spat will be resolved soon, adding that it hinges on the sincerity of the Philippines side. Taiwan has criticized the Philippines as lacking sincerity in its response to the shooting incident. The Philippines, meanwhile, has sent a presidential envoy to Taiwan to offer an apology, is mulling compensation of NT$1 million (US$33,464) to Hung's family, and has expressed interest in talks on a fishery deal. However, the two countries have been tussling over critical details of the incident such the location of the fishing boat when it was fired on and matters relating to the investigation. Taiwan has asked to see the video footage of the incident recorded by Philippine patrol vessels, saying the video will help to clarify the circumstances surrounding the shooting. (By Lee Shu-hua and Scully Hsiao)


Updated : 2021-03-01 13:12 GMT+08:00