Ministry lauds Philippine convictions

FISHER KILLING::The family of Hung Shih-cheng said it does not care about the prison terms and compensation, but instead hopes that other fishers’ safety can be guaranteed

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Sep 19, 2019 - Page 1

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday lauded a Manila court’s conviction of eight members of a Philippine Coast Guard vessel for their killing of a Taiwanese fisher aboard the Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28 in 2013.

On May 9, 2013, 65-year-old fisher Hung Shih-cheng (洪石成) was shot to death by Philippine Coast Guards officers in the Balingtang Channel, where the exclusive economic zones of Taiwan and the Philippines overlap.

The killing brought attention to the long-term conflict over fishing rights in the area, sparking a diplomatic row between Taiwan and the Philippines.

The Philippine Government in August 2013 released a report on the incident and the suspects were prosecuted by the Philippine Department of Justice in March 2014.

After more than six years, a regional court in Manila yesterday handed down prison terms of eight to 14 years to the eight coast guard officials, the ministry said.

The court also ordered each officer to pay Hung’s heirs 50,000 Philippine pesos (US$958.86) in civil indemnity and another 50,000 in moral damages, the Manila Bulletin reported.

The court said that the “prosecution has clearly established the intent to kill on the part of the accused as shown by their act of shooting the Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28 vessel with the use of high-velocity firearms while they were chasing it.”

A lawyer for the accused said that they would appeal the sentences, the report said.

The ministry said that the ruling realizes judicial justice, even though it can be appealed.

Philippine prosecutors visited Taiwan several times to gather evidence, while the ministry helped Hung’s family, witnesses and experts testify before the court in Manila, it said.

The ministry said that it would monitor any developments in the case, while Taiwan and the Philippines would continue to deepen their collaborations based on mutual trust.

The ruling is unsatisfying, but acceptable, said Hung Tzu-chien (洪慈綪), the daughter of the victim.

If the accused had been tried in Taiwan, they would have faced harsher penalties and fines, she said.

Many other Pingtung County-based fishers had encountered similar situations without being able to bring the perpetrators to justice, she said.

The family of the victim does not care about the prison terms and compensation, but instead hopes that the government would guarantee other fishers’ safety by improving its policies, she added.

The Manila Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei said in a statement that it deeply regretted the incident.

“We hope that both parties would eventually overcome the emotional strain that this regretful incident brought about more than six years ago and that our peoples can move toward strengthening our bonds of friendship,” the office said.

Additional reporting by CNA