The administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday froze Philippine worker applications, recalled Taiwan’s representative to the Philippines and asked the Philippine representative to Taiwan to return to Manila amid a row over the killing of a Taiwanese fisherman.
The government launched eight retaliatory measures, including a travel alert on the Philippines, in retaliation for the fatal shooting on Thursday last week.
Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺), in a scheduled press conference at 6pm, announced the implementation of the eight retaliatory measures and said although the government approved of an apology issued by Philippine President Benigno Aquino III at about 4:30pm yesterday, it said the statement, which categorized the death of 65-year-old Hung Shih-cheng (洪石成) as an “unintended” accident, was unacceptable.
“The Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28 fishing boat is riddled with bullet holes and we cannot accept the Philippine government’s argument that the killing was a careless or unintended accident,” he said, while showing a copy of ballistics analysis of the Taiwanese fishing boat.
The boat was fired upon by a joint patrol of the Philippine Coast Guard and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources on Thursday last week in waters in which the exclusive economic zones of Taiwan and the Philippines overlap.
Jiang said the government had launched a second wave of sanctions because the Philippine government had failed to handle the incident promptly, while being evasive in responding to Taiwan’s four demands — a formal apology over the killing of Hung, compensation to Hung’s family, an investigation into the incident and starting negotiations on a fisheries agreement.
“The Philippine government showed little sincerity that it wants to resolve the issue and remained evasive. The eight measures have been implemented as planned and the government will continue to protest in the strongest terms,” he said.
The eight measures proposed yesterday morning by the government after a national security meeting, are issuing a travel warning that discourages Taiwanese from traveling to the Philippines, the suspension of high-level meetings at the World Health Assembly, the suspension of economic exchanges, the suspension of cooperation on agriculture and fisheries, the suspension of cooperation on technology, the suspension of negotiations on air space rights, the suspension of the visa-free program for Philippine nationals and that Taiwan would hold military exercises in disputed waters.
The first wave of sanctions — the suspension of the hiring of Philippine workers, recalling Taiwan’s representative to the Philippines and sending the Philippine representative to Taiwan back to Manila — also took effect yesterday after the Philippine government failed to meet the Ma administration’s demands by the president’s deadline.
Jiang said the National Security Council would set up a response team in cooperation with the related government agencies to oversee the implementation of the 11 sanctions and the government may also consider more sanctions unless the Philippine government offers an acceptable response.
Council of Labor Affairs Minister Pan Shih-wei (潘世偉) said the freezing of applications for work permits from Philippine nationals is indefinite, while adding that the measure would not affect Philippine nationals already working in Taiwan.