Although it is not a good time to criticize the government amid escalating tensions between Taiwan and the Philippines over the killing last week of a Taiwanese fisherman, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) must formulate a comprehensive plan to deal with the diplomatic row, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said yesterday.
The DPP supported the Ma administration’s 72-hour ultimatum to the Philippines demanding a formal apology, DPP spokesperson Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) told a press conference.
However, it is even more important for Ma to come up with a complete and well-thought-out set of countermeasures in case Manila fails to meet the demands after the 72-hour deadline passes on midnight today, Lin said.
Lin said Ma was late in responding to the conflict, and if he failed to present effective measures in the event that Manila did not respond, the government’s crisis management in the past five days would be a “big failure.”
DPP lawmakers echoed the party’s position at a separate press conference with Legislator Chiu Yi-ying (邱議瑩), saying that since Ma had been criticized as “being soft” on Taipei’s threat of retaliation, the period leading up to the deadline would be crucial and the government should prepare countermeasures to all possible reactions from Manila.
Chiu described the Philippines as “an arrogant, rude and unreasonable country” with a poor record of handling international controversies, including the killing of a Taiwanese fisherman seven years ago and the deaths of eight Hong Kong tourists in a hostage-taking incident in Manila in 2010.
DPP lawmakers unanimously called for the government to immediately provide Taiwanese fishing boats in the overlapping exclusive economic zones between the two countries with a navy escort and demanded military and Coast Guard Administration vessels conduct regular patrols in the area.
Meanwhile, political observers warned against cross-strait collaboration on the conflict, as suggested in the Global Times newspaper, a Beijing mouthpiece.
By calling for cross-strait cooperation, Beijing seemed to be taking the opportunity to promote nationalism again after carrying out the same strategy in the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) controversy, DPP Central Executive Committee member Hung Chi-kune (洪智坤) said.
“Taiwan should take the matter into its own hands,” Hung said.
Taiwan Thinktank researcher Lai I-chung (賴怡忠) said that while many Taiwanese have been outraged by the incident and have even called for military retaliation, the government should focus on resolving the conflict, rather than leveraging intense public emotion to advocate provocative measures, such as threats of military action and collaboration with China.