President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday described the killing of a Taiwanese fisherman by Philippine Coast Guard personnel last week as “cold-blood murder” and said the government would continue negotiations with the Philippine government to resolve the incident.
Amid the ongoing dispute between Taiwan and the Philippines, Ma has on several occasions condemned the Philippines for the incident on May 9, involving a Taiwanese fishing boat operating in the two countries’ overlapping exclusive economic zones, in which Taiwanese fisherman Hung Shih-cheng (洪石成) was shot and killed.
Meeting with academics who participated in an International Law Association conference in the Presidential Office, Ma rejected the Philippine government’s comments that the attack was “unintended” and that it was handling the incident in a decent manner.
He said the act of killing cannot be justified under international law, and repeated his calls for the Philippines to take responsibility as a signatory nation of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
“The Philippine government vessel used automatic weapons to strafe an unarmed fishing boat. It was no longer executing official duty. It was cold-blooded murder,” he said.
As the two nations’ exclusive economic zones overlap, Taiwanese fishing boats have often been boarded and inspected by Philippine vessels in these waters, and several Taiwanese fishermen have been killed, most recently in 2006.
“As a decent and respectable member of the international community, which the Philippines believes itself to be, it should abide by the rules of international law,” Ma said.
He cited Article 73 of the UN convention and said a coastal state can employ measures including boarding, inspection, arrest and judicial proceedings in its exclusive economic zones to exercise its sovereignty. However, opening fire and killing individuals onboard an unarmed fishing boat is unacceptable, Ma said.
He said the two sides were now involved in negotiations on the incident, and said his administration would work to resolve the diplomatic dispute via international law.
“We will continue to negotiate with the Philippines and hope to solve the issue in a peaceful and rational way. We will try to avoid damaging our relations with the Philippines. However, international justice and the principle of not resolving problems through force have to be upheld,” he said.