MANILA: A ranking Taiwan official on Saturday accused the crew of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) of murder for the killing of a Taiwanese fisherman that seriously strained relations between the two countries.
Chen Wen-chi of the Taiwan foreign ministry aired the accusation in a press conference at the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office (Teco) in suburban Makati City, Metro Manila before she and her team of investigators flew back to Taipei.
“By combining the evidence, it clearly shows that the Philippine law enforcers were intentionally shooting the 26 crew members of the (Taiwan fishing boat) Guang Te Hsin which indicated their intent of murder,” Chen pointed out.
Chen, the head of the Taiwan foreign ministry’s department of international and cross-strait legal office, said most of the bullets fired from the guns of the PCG crew were directed at the cockpit of the fishing boat where the fishermen had sought refuge.
The Teco also issued a separate press statement urging the Philippine government to agree to a joint investigation into the killing, citing an agreement on mutual legal assistance signed by the two countries.
This developed as Secretary Ricky Carandang of the Malacanang Palace press office disputed Chen’s claim of murder as he appealed for the concerned parties to refrain from “inflaming” the situation highlighted by the reported attacks on the more than 80,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) deployed in Taiwan.
“There is an investigation ongoing,” Carandang said, “so any premature statements that tend to confuse the issues and inflame passions should be avoided.”
Carandang did not elaborate but he was apparently referring to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) ordered by President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino to conduct a fair and impartial inquiry into the killing.
In a separate interview, Asis Perez, the head of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), told GMA News that most of the foreign nationals arrested for alleged illegal fishing in the Philippines were Taiwanese.
Asis disclosed that through the years, an average of from two to three Taiwanese fishermen have been arrested and fined for allegedly poaching in Philippine waters.