TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- A Filipino arrested on suspicion of fatally stabbing two of his countrymen on a Taiwan fishing boat, arrived in Kaohsiung yesterday (March 18).
The fisherman has been identified as Aurelio Fronda and is alleged to have knifed two crew members on the Wen Peng (穩鵬號), which is registered in Pingtung County’s Donggang township.
Two Filipinos died, several other crew members were injured, while six jumped overboard to escape the attack and are thought to have been lost at sea, according to the Manila and Economic Cultural Office (MECO) in Kaohsiung.
The attack is said to have taken place at 3 a.m. on Feb. 20, approximately 1,540 nautical miles from Port Louis, Mauritius.
MECO Chairman Angelito Tan Banayo told CNA the suspect was in police custody and arrived at the Port of Kaohsiung on Monday.
MECO officials were dispatched to provide translation and legal advice. Banayo said this assistance was provided to all nationals, in accordance with Philippine and Taiwan laws.
A Taiwan Fisheries Agency spokesperson was quoted as saying: “A fight broke out when the chief officer hacked two of his crew to death in a disciplinary action dispute."
Six crew members reportedly jumped overboard to flee the suspect, Aurelio Fronda. The five Indonesians and one Filipino, identified as Rizaldy Viernes, haven’t been seen since.
CGA officers holding seized weapons. (CNA photo)
After arresting Fronda on March 2 and temporarily detaining him on a nearby fishing vessel, special agents detained him on the vessel, Hsun Hu No. 8 (巡護八號), for the voyage back to Taiwan.
Fronda will be further investigated at the Pingtung District Prosecutor's Office, according to the Coast Guard Administration.
On March 4, search and rescue operations to find the missing six crew members were halted.
The body of one Filipino victim, Jesus Opena, is aboard the Wen Peng and being kept in the ship's freezer, according to his uncle Karpov Ablang.
The body of another Filipino, identified as Carlito Florida, was reportedly thrown overboard. His remains have not been found.
Wen Peng. (CNA image)
The victims’ relatives were reported as saying they were frustrated at having to wait for information about their loved ones. Some also claimed there had been "no visible effort to locate missing victims."
Ablang, who is in Kaohsiung, told Taiwan News the Wen Peng's arrival in Kaohsiung had been delayed due to inclement weather in Singapore.
Ablang said his nephew, Opena, boarded the Wen Peng in late January and worked as a cook. Ablang added that he was a hardworking, devout Catholic, who was also a caring father and husband.
Fronda (front, center). (CNA image)