Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂) yesterday “commended” the Philippine Department of Justice’s (DOJ) decision to charge eight Philippine Coast Guard personnel with homicide over the death of a Taiwanese fisherman, about eight months after the shooting took place.
Along with Minister of Justice Luo Ying-shay (羅瑩雪) and other officials, Lin called a press conference at 8pm to express the ministry’s approval of the Philippine department’s move.
Manila Economic and Cultural Office Chairman Amadeo Perez notified the ministry of the decision via letter yesterday after the Philippine department composed a resolution on the case and then filed the charges against the eight coast guard staff, Lin said.
Fisherman Hung Shih-cheng (洪石成) was killed while on his fishing boat, the Siaoliouciou Island (小琉球)-registered Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28, on May 9 last year when Philippine patrol vessel MCS-3001, which belongs to the Philippine Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, opened fire on the Taiwanese boat in waters where the two countries’ economic zones overlap.
Taipei and Manila concluded parallel investigations in August last year into the incident that found that eight Philippine Coast Guard personnel onboard the MCS-3001 were involved in Hung’s death.
The eight individuals facing criminal charges are: Commanding Officer Arnold Enriquez dela Cruz; first-class seamen Edrando Quiapo Aguila, Mhelvin Aguilar Bendo II, Andy Gibb Ronario Golfo, Sunny Galang Masangcay and Henry Baco Solomon; second-class seaman Nicky Renold Aurello; and petty officer Richard Fernandez Corpuz.
Aside from homicide charges, the department also levied obstruction of justice charges against Dela Cruz and Mhelvin Aguilar Bendo II because they allegedly falsified their monthly gunner report for May 11 last year.
According to Philippine reports, the department’s resolution said that “the respondents all acted in unison with common purpose of firing at” the Taiwanese boat “to force it to submit to MCS-3001’s inspection.”
Media reported that the document cited a probe conducted by the Philippine National Bureau Investigation, which concluded that “orders were given and the orders were obeyed and efficiently implemented with fatal consequences.”
The department did not accept to the respondents’ claim of self-defense since there was “no evidence to indicate or prove that the Taiwanese boat posed an imminent or grave threat to respondents before or during the pursuit,” they added.
Hung’s death led the government to impose 11 sanctions on Manila after it felt dissatisfied with the Philippines’ response to its four demands over the incident: that the Philippine government apologize for the incident, compensate Hung’s family, uncover the truth behind the shooting to punish the culprits and begin bilateral talks over a fisheries agreement to avoid similar incidents.
Now that the charges have been filed, Manila has fulfilled all four of Taipei’s initial demands, Lin said.