The Philippines' Representative to Taiwan Antonio Basilio said in Taipei yesterday that a task force has been established by his government to investigate a fatal shooting incident involving a Taiwanese fishing vessel in Philippine waters last Sunday.
The Philippines government would also invite Taiwan investigation agencies to join the probe, Basilio added.
The envoy made the remarks after visiting Taiwan's Minister of Foreign Affairs Mark Chen (陳唐山) yesterday to give a briefing on the progress of the investigation into the incident.
The skipper of the Taitung-based fishing boat Manchunyi was shot dead on Sunday and his younger brother, also the first mate, was seriously injured after their vessel was attacked by six men on an unidentified boat near the Babuyan Islands. Two of the men on board the Philippine vessel appeared to be dressed in military uniforms, the surviving crewmembers said.
Basilio said it has been confirmed that two coastguard officials were involved in the incident, though the reason for the shooting was yet to be determined.
Although the Philippines police admitted to the shooting, they also claimed that the Manchunyi was fishing illegally in Philippines waters and had collided with motorized sampans carrying Filipino fishermen and coastguard members, who intended to chase off the fishing vessel.
The Philippines authorities promised that the case would be handled as soon as possible and that the investigation would be completed within two to three weeks.
According to a Central News Agency report filed from Manila, an unnamed official from the Philippines coast guard said that according to Philippine law, on-duty police officers are exempt from legal responsibilities and criminal indemnification if they shoot in self-defense.
The police official said that if the fishing vessel did ram the sampans as suggested in the initial investigation report, this could be a condition under which the coastguard could open fire, although they should first aim at the vessel itself, the CNA report stated.
Chen said he had invited Basilio to his office to express Taiwan's dissatisfaction to the Philippine government over the shooting incident. The minister noted that Basilio's attitude was one of sincerity, and added that he hoped Taiwan's judicial authorities would join forces with the Philippines-based task force to uncover the truth behind the shooting.