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Taiwan reports progress in talks with Philippines

Taiwan reports progress in talks with Philippines

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The Philippines has reacted positively to Taiwanese requests to view a video recording of the May 9 incident which killed a Taiwanese fisherman, the Ministry of Justice said Friday.
Both sides are discussing judicial cooperation in Manila, after a 17-member Taiwanese team failed to make headway during a visit last week and the MOJ turned down a request by Philippine investigators to travel to Taiwan earlier this week.
The death of Hung Shih-cheng, 65, in a shooting by Filipinos from a government vessel has caused grave tension between the two countries, with Taiwan imposing eleven types of sanctions, including a freeze on the employment of more Filipino workers.
The two countries have exchanged wish lists including requests for new inspections and investigations.
The Philippine authorities have repeatedly mentioned the existence of a video recording claiming to underline their stance that Hung’s fishing trawler, the Kuang Ta Hsing No.28 captained by his son, was operating in Philippine territorial waters and tried to ram the government vessel.
Taiwan has rejected the allegations and described Hung’s death as cold-blooded murder, and also refused a Philippine demand for a new post-mortem on the Pingtung County fisherman.
Justice Vice Minister Chen Ming-tang said Friday that Manila had given “a positive response” to the latest Taiwanese request to study the video to ascertain how the incident had developed.
Of the ten items on Taiwan’s wish list, Manila had now only agreed to allow the Taiwanese investigators to board the government vessel and look at the guns allegedly used in the shooting. Both sides had also agreed not to conduct any direct interrogations of suspects and witnesses, though indirect participation was allowed.
No date had yet been determined for the departure of the investigative teams, Chen said, but if it was necessary, they could start off during the weekend.
On Tuesday, the Council of Agriculture’s Fisheries Agency presented the ship’s Voyage Data Recorder, which showed that it had never been fishing in Philippine territorial waters. The site where the incident took place, was situated in an area where the Exclusive Economic Zones of both countries overlapped, allowing Taiwanese fishermen to work there, Taiwan said.
Former Premier Frank Hsieh faulted the government of President Ma Ying-jeou Friday for being too polite. It should have played up the dispute with the Philippines to a level where it would have received more world attention, he said. If the United States had been forced to intervene and play the role of mediator, that would have been beneficiary to Taiwan’s claims of sovereignty, Hsieh said.