Thu, May 16, 2013 - Page 3 News List

TAIPEI-MANILA ROW: Envoy’s latest response ‘much less friendly’

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

The Philippines’ top envoy to Taiwan on Tuesday delivered a version of his government’s response to Taiwan’s demands over the fatal shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman by Philippine Coast Guard personnel that was “much less friendly” than the original, Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) said.

On Tuesday evening, Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂) met with Manila Economic and Culture Office Managing Director Antonio Basilio — who went back to the Philippines to discuss the situation with Philippine President Benigno Aquino III on Monday morning, before returning to Taiwan on Tuesday evening — for talks to resolve the diplomatic spat over the killing of Hung Shih-cheng (洪石成). However, the five-hour long negotiations ended with the government proposing further punitive measures against the Philippines.

At a press conference held at 10am yesterday after a high-level meeting with President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) at 7am, Jiang provided the press with four different versions of the Philippine government’s response to Taipei’s demands, along with a chart detailing the differences between each version.

The Ma administration had demanded that Manila formally apologize to Taiwan, compensate the family of the killed fisherman, uncover the truth behind the incident and begin talks with Taiwan on a fisheries agreement by midnight on Tuesday.

“At one time [Tuesday] we thought the Philippine government was ready to resolve the issue as the ministry received an informal response by fax and e-mail from Manila before Basilio’s departure [from the Philippines]. This is the first version,” Jiang said.

However, during his meeting with Lin, Basilio presented a second version, which showed that the Philippine government “was not sincere in apologizing” to Taiwan and “had tried to shirk its responsibility” over the incident, Jiang said.

In the second version, Basilio made no mention of “the Philippine government,” did not address any concrete judicial measures needed to ascertain what happened during the incident and bring those responsible to justice, and did not express the Philippine government’s willingness to compensate the victim’s family.

After Lin said that the second version was unacceptable, Basilio drafted a third version that was similar to the first version. However, the third version was rejected by the Philippine government after Basilio talked with the relevant agencies in Manila, Jiang said.

After consultations with the Philippine Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Philippine Department of Justice and legal advisers of the Aquino administration, Manila proposed a fourth version, which “was not much different from the second version,” Jiang said.

During the negotiations, the Philippines tried to trivialize Taiwan’s demands and responded in a flippant and most unequivocal manner, Jiang said.

According to the third version, which Jiang said was closest to what Taipei expected, the Philippine government whould offer an apology and the Philippine Department of Justice should institute appropriate criminal and administrative charges against those responsible for the incident in accordance with the law.

Under Philippine law, the penalties for such infractions include fines, dismissal from services, imprisonment and financial restitution to the victim’s family, the third version showed.

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