Taiwan: Phl delaying joint probe
Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) - May 19, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - A Taiwanese probe panel left the country yesterday and accused the government of delaying the joint investigation into the killing of a Taiwanese fisherman by Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) personnel.

“Although we made some progress yesterday, we still feel discontent on the lack of sincerity and credibility exhibited by the Philippine side in cooperating with our team. For this very reason, all the members of the Taiwan investigation team have decided to go back to Taiwan immediately,” Chen Wen-chi, head of the investigating team, told a press conference in Makati City yesterday. The team arrived on May 16.

Chen, director of the Taiwanese Ministry of Justice’s department of international and cross-strait legal affairs, maintained that the PCG personnel intentionally shot the Taiwanese fisherman and other crew members of the Guang Ta Hsin 28, adding that it “indicates intent of murder.”

She noted that the vessel was shot 45 times and most of the bullets hit the cockpit, where four crew members were hiding.

Chen said that even if Philippine law enforcers on MCS-3001 were conducting an official duty, they should have followed the procedures of warning, dispelling, boarding and detaining the illegal vessel as provided for in international maritime law.

“However, MCS-3001 failed to do the aforementioned measures, which clearly showed that the personnel on board the ship totally ignored and violated the customs of the international law,” Chen said.

The team said it is necessary for Taiwan and the Philippines to jointly form an investigation team to uncover the truth behind the incident.

Chen said the Philippine government has continuously accused and labeled the victim as the villain in the incident, without disclosing sufficient evidence to back up its claims.

“If they are unable to produce sufficient evidence that will deem their claims as legitimate, it can be said that the Philippine government is purposely concealing the offense of their officials,” he said.

Following the Agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance signed by the two sides, the Taiwan government said it welcomes the Philippine government to send a team to Taiwan to join the investigation provided that they also follow appropriate procedure.

The 65-year-old Hong Shi-cheng was fatally shot while intruding into Philippine waters. However, Taiwan had insisted that the shooting happened in its territorial waters.

“As shown in the VDR (voyage data recorder) recorded by Guang Ta Hsin 28, the exact location where the incident occurred is with the EEZ (exclusive economic zone) of the Republic of China and not in the Philippine territorial waters,” Chen said.

‘Irresponsible neighborhood bully’

Meanwhile, a former ambassador called Taiwan an “irresponsible neighborhood bully” for its actions against the Philippines.

“Taiwan is behaving like an irresponsible neighborhood bully. It is not surprising since it is a province of China,” said Lauro Baja Jr., former Philippine permanent representative to the United Nations and foreign affairs undersecretary for policy.

Baja said the Philippines should not go down to Taiwan’s level and instead “act and speak as a responsible member of the international community.”

Taiwan announced on Wednesday that it adopted a second set of sanctions against the Philippines after Taipei failed to get Manila to give a satisfactory response on the four demands it imposed.

The Executive Yuan said in a statement that Premier Jiang Yi-huah announced Wednesday night that a second set of sanctions against the Philippines would be adopted in response to the death of the Taiwanese fisherman.

Manila Economic and Cultural Office chairman Amadeo Perez Jr. arrived in Taiwan the other day as President Aquino’s personal representative to Taipei to convey his and the Filipino people’s deep regret and apology to the family of Hong as well as to the people of Taiwan.

Taipei still found Manila’s apology unsatisfactory, saying the attitude demonstrated an utter lack of sincerity.

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