The government yesterday reacted strongly to the killing of a 65-year-old Taiwanese fisherman who was shot by personnel aboard a Philippine government vessel on Thursday, saying the preliminary explanations provided by the Philippines were “totally unacceptable.”
A Philippine Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) patrol boat opened fire on Pingtung-based fishing boat Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28 at 10am on Thursday in disputed waters between Taiwan and the Philippines, killing Hung Shih-cheng (洪石成), the Philippine government said.
Following meetings with Philippine officials since the incident, Taiwanese officials said they were not satisfied with the explanations provided by Philippine authorities.
Since the incident involved a Philippine government vessel, Taiwan has demanded that the Philippine government “offer a formal apology to the [Republic of China] government, provide compensation for [Hung’s] family and bring those responsible to justice,” Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂) said.
“The Philippines should take complete responsibility for the incident,” Lin said.
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Shih (石定) said the ministry was told by the Philippines that the shooting involved “warning shots” aimed at “driving Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28 out of what the Philippines considers its territorial waters.”
Representative to the Philippines Raymond Wang (王樂生) told Manila that the explanation was “totally unacceptable,” Shih said.
As the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) has discovered that the Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28 was riddled with 32 bullet holes, “clearly it was not warning shots,” he said.
According to international law, “a warning shot” should be fired “across the bows” of a vessel rather than at the ship itself, said Perry Shen (申佩璜), director-general of the ministry’s Department of Treaty and Legal Affairs.
CGA Deputy Minister Cheng Chang-hsiung (鄭樟雄) said the government has learned that the BFAR patrol vessel had BFAR and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) personnel on board when the shooting took place and that “PCG officials opened fire.”
“I expressed strong anger at the Philippines’ savage act,” Cheng said.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs held a press conference on the incident, after Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) called an impromptu meeting at which he instructed Cabinet members to make strenuous efforts to negotiate with Manila.
Cheng vowed that the CGA would strengthen patrols in the area where the incident occured.
“The CGA has sent two vessels equipped with 20mm machine guns and 40mm machine guns to patrol the waters. We have sufficient weaponry to ensure the safety of fishing vessels,” Cheng said.
According to government officials, there were some discrepancies between Taiwanese and Philippine sources on the circumstances that led to the shooting.
“The Philippines has begun its investigation. We have a different understanding of the causes of the incident and the exact location where it took place than those presented by the Philippines in its preliminary examination,” Shih said, without elaborating.
Government officials declined to comment further on the Philippines’ account of the incident.
“They [the Philippines] have their explanation for the incident, but our understanding was that [Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28] was not engaged in illegal fishing,” Lin said.