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Philippines apologizes to family over fatal shooting (update)

Philippines apologizes to family over fatal shooting (update)

Taipei, Aug. 8 (CNA) An envoy authorized by Philippine President Benigno Aquino III apologized in person on Thursday to the family of a Taiwanese fisherman who was killed by gunfire from Philippine coast guard officers in May. Amadeo Perez Jr., chairman of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO), said he has been authorized to "personally convey the president's and the Filipino people's deep regret and apology" to the family for "the unfortunate loss" of 65-year-old fisherman Hung Shih-cheng's life. MECO is the Philippine institution responsible for handling relations with Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties. Hung was killed on May 9 when a Philippine coast guard vessel opened fire on the Taiwanese boat Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28 in an area where the two countries' exclusive economic zones overlap -- an incident that has strained bilateral relations. Perez's apology is expected to relieve tension between the two countries. His visit comes one day after both Taiwan and the Philippines released their respective investigative reports, both of which urge charges of homicide against the eight coast guard officers found responsible for the fatal shooting. Perez made the official apology and other remarks in the presence of Hung's widow, other family members and reporters at Pingtung County's Liuqiu Township, off the coast of southern Taiwan. Reading from a prepared statement, Perez said his visit was to inform the Hung family that the Philippine National Bureau of Investigation's (NBI) report on the incident has been released, that criminal complaints against those responsible shall be filed with Philippine prosecutors and that the Department of Justice is committed to prosecuting the crimes at the earliest possible time. Perez said that the Philippines and Taiwan have begun talks on how to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future with "the undertaking of both sides to avoid the use of force in the enforcement of fisheries laws." He also took the opportunity to express gratitude to Taiwan's coast guard for rescuing three Filipino fishermen and recovering the remains of a fourth in July after they had drifted at sea for days due to stormy weather. Perez expressed regret over not being able to meet with the victim's family when he came to Taiwan on May 15, but he said that after all this time, his sorrow for their loss remains "undiminished." After reading the statement, he shook hands with the members of the Hung family and also delivered a formal letter of apology to Hung's widow. Perez was scheduled to meet Taiwan's Foreign Minister David Lin later in the day for talks and there were indications that the Taiwan government may soon remove sanctions imposed on the Philippines over the shooting incident.
(By Kuo Chih-hsuan and Elaine Hou)


Updated : 2021-10-24 05:13 GMT+08:00