President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday defended the legality of the government’s sanctions against Manila over the killing of a Taiwanese fisherman last week, appealing for international condemnation of what he called outrageous behavior by the Philippines.
Speaking at a forum on international law and disputes organized by the Chinese (Taiwan) Society of International Law, Ma said the Philippine government vessel’s “excessive use of force” against a Taiwanese fishing boat in the two nations’ overlapping exclusive economic zones violated both international law and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
“We believe such outrageous behavior cannot be tolerated by the international community,” he said.
The Taiwanese 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 where the exclusive economic zones of Taiwan and the Philippines overlap, resulting in the death of 65-year-old fisherman Hung Shih-cheng (洪石成).
The Ma administration on Sunday demanded that the Philippine government apologize for the killing, compensate Hung’s family, launch a full investigation into the incident and start negotiations on a fisheries agreement.
Ma yesterday said the government issued the four demands in accordance with international law, adding that 11 punitive measures were implemented on Wednesday because the Philippine government had failed to meet the demands by Taipei’s deadline.
“I do hope [the Philippine government] will understand they have to be a responsible stakeholder in the international community. Killing unarmed innocent people on the open seas is not an act tolerated by civilized nations,” he said.
The government announced on Wednesday it had suspended Philippine worker applications, recalled Taiwan’s representative to the Philippines and asked the Philippine representative to Taiwan to return to Manila.
The eight other sanctions are a travel warning that discourages Taiwanese from visiting 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.
While condemning the Philippine government for its irresponsible handling of the incident, Ma also called on Taiwanese to treat Philippine workers and visitors rationally and in a friendly manner.
“Philippine workers work as hard as Taiwanese … I ask all Taiwanese to judge the matter as it stands and not to vent their anger on Philippine nationals living in Taiwan,” he said later on his Facebook page.