Shooting at sea: PCG kills Taiwanese
Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) - May 11, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) vowed to get to the bottom of the skirmish with a Taiwanese fishing vessel that took place in the northern part of the country last Thursday and resulted in the death of a Taiwanese fisherman.

PCG commandant Rear Admiral Rodolfo Isorena and BFAR national director Asis Perez yesterday said a thorough investigation would be conducted on the incident that took place 43 nautical miles off Balintang Island, which is within the archipelagic waters of the Philippines.

Initial information showed that at 10 a.m. Thursday, the two BFAR personnel and 11 PCG personnel who were manning the Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) 3001 vessel were patrolling near Balintang Island in Northern Philippines when it initially spotted two fishing vessels, marked with what appeared to be Chinese characters.

For about an hour, the 30-meter long MCS 3001 tried to chase the smaller fishing vessel, but when it was able to catch up with the fleeing Taiwanese ship, it reportedly maneuvered and tried to ram the MCS 3001. 

Isorena said it was a “near miss” because the fishing boat missed the MCS 3001 by only one meter.

“It was very close... Probably the intention was to really ram the MCS,” he said.

This reportedly forced the MCS to fire warning shots at the engine of the Taiwanese fishing vessel with the intention of disabling it.

It was at this juncture when the crew of the MCS 3001 noticed two other ships, one colored white and another gray, at a distance. Feeling outnumbered, the MCS withdrew from the area.

The MCS personnel said that at the time of the shooting, they were unaware that someone was injured.

It was only the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) which informed them that one of the Taiwanese fishermen died.

“This is a very unfortunate incident and efforts will be instituted to prevent similar occurrences. Government will increase visibility in the area to prevent further incursions of our waters and prevent incidents of the same nature,” Perez said.

The heads of the two agencies did not issue an apology but expressed sympathy to the family of the fisherman who perished during the encounter.

“We assure them of a transparent, impartial investigation,” he said.

Asked if the Philippine government would offer any compensation to the family of the deceased, Perez said, “I think the government is not closing any options. We have to listen to the other side as well. We would study any proposal and any suggestion.”

They are also hoping that other nations would be responsible in teaching their flag ships to respect the territories of other countries.

MCS 3001 personnel summoned

The two BFAR personnel and one of the PCG officers at the MCS 3001 have been summoned to appear in the investigation. They were expected to arrive at the PCG headquarters yesterday afternoon.

The BFAR and PCG have also ordered the relief of the 13 personnel at the MCS 3001 at the time of the incident while investigation is going on.

The PCG said it would not recall all the 13-man crew immediately since some of them have to stay behind to operate the MCS vessel. But once the replacements have arrived, their relief would become effective. - With Jaime Laude, Aurea Calica, Pia Lee-Brago, Czeriza Valencia, AP




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