The Philippines yesterday rejected Taiwan’s claim that the fatal shooting of Taiwanese fisherman Hung Shih-cheng (洪石成) on May 9 by Philippine Coast Guard personnel amounted to “murder.”
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) on Friday said that the incident was a “cold-blooded murder,” not an “unintended” death, as Manila has claimed. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs then called an international press conference called to highlight the matter.
In response to media queries yesterday in Manila, Ricky Carandang, a spokesman for Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, rejected the murder claim.
“There is an investigation ongoing, so any premature statements that tend to confuse the issues and inflame passions should be avoided,” Carandang was quoted as saying by Agence France-Presse.
Meanwhile, Malacanang Palace reiterated that it did not allow Taiwan to jointly probe the case with Philippine authorities.
Philippine deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said that Philippine Department of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has made it clear that a joint investigation is “not possible.”
Valte declined to respond to the findings made by the Taiwanese investigation team, saying: “We will not respond ... We do not want to escalate things any further.”
De Lima yesterday said a joint probe would be tantamount to sovereign interference, but Manila would still look for ways to cooperate with Taiwan in the investigation.
In a statement posted on the Philippine government’s official Twitter account, De Lima appealed to both Taipei and Manila to keep calm as the country’s National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) wraps up its probe.
“We advise everyone to just wait for the results of the NBI investigation and avoid making any speculations and/or premature disclosure of so-called ‘findings’ or information from so-called ‘insider sources,’” De Lima wrote, referring to leaked information alleging that Philippine Coast Guard personnel might have violated the rules of engagement.