Manila to send envoy to apologize

POINT TO PROVE::Hung Shih-cheng’s daughter called for the results of an investigation to be released to address rumors that her father was fishing illegally

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Sun, Aug 04, 2013 - Page 1

The administration of Philippine President Benigno Aquino III has agreed to send a special envoy to Taiwan to apologize for the shooting death of fisherman Hung Shih-cheng (洪石成), his daughter, Hung Tzu-chien (洪慈綪), said yesterday.

A demand by the victim’s family that the Philippine government offer a formal and public apology was not met until nearly three months after Hung Shih-cheng was shot dead by Philippine Coast Guard personnel on May 9.

Hung Tzu-chien, the victim’s eldest daughter, said details, including the choice of Aquino’s special envoy, the form of the apology and the venue where the apology is to be offered, are still being worked out by lawyers.

“We hope the Philippine government will designate a representative who has proper authorization from Philippine President Aquino and that the special envoy will come to Siaoliouciou (小琉球),” said Hung Tzu-chien, whose family reside on the island in Pingtung County.

Hung Shih-cheng, the 65-year-old captain of fishing boat the Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28, was killed by Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) personnel on a Philippine government ship while his vessel was in waters where the claimed exclusive economic zones of the two countries overlap.

Prosecutors from Taiwan and the Philippines have compared notes in their separate investigations into the incident in early June, but the findings remain confidential.

Hung Tzu-chien yesterday again called on the Ministry of Justice to release the results of its investigation as soon as possible to address rumors that her father was involved in illegal fishing.

The release of information from the boat’s voyage data recorder, concerning the ship’s position through its voyage in late May, has disproved a claim by the Philippines that the Taiwanese boat had intruded into its territorial waters.

Hung Tzu-chien said that if the report was released, it would be a more forceful rebuttal to the rumors that “we sometimes hear and feel aggrieved about.”

The report conducted by the Philippine National Bureau of Investigation was submitted to Aquino for his approval on June 11.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), the Philippine government was still waiting for Aquino’s clearance to disclose the contents of the report.

In line with a bilateral judicial assistance agreement, Taiwan and the Philippines are expected to release their respective reports simultaneously.

The ministry has repeatedly expressed concerns, through various channels, to Malacanang Palace that the investigation results should be released as soon as possible, said Benjamin Ho (何登煌), director-general of MOFA’s Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

Taiwan has enacted 11 sanctions against the Philippines, including a freeze on all work applications since May 15, in response to Manila’s failure to meet four demands: that it apologize for the incident, compensate Hung’s family, uncover the truth behind the incident to punish the culprits and begin bilateral talks over a fisheries agreement to avoid similar incidents.

Taiwan will lift the sanctions if Manila’s investigation is found to be acceptable, while the government has also considered different scenarios to assess what action to take if the report is unsatisfactory, Ho said.