The Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) confirmed yesterday that it has received documents from Taiwanese prosecutors which should help Philippine investigators complete their investigation into the shooting of a Taiwanese fishing boat and death of a Taiwanese fisherman on May 9 faster.
The paperwork included witness testimonies, autopsy reports and ballistics reports, jointly translated and certified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and the MECO.
MECO Chairman Amadeo Perez said his office received the paperwork concerning the strafing of the Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28 by Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) personnel at about 10am from the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines (TECOP).
The MECO immediately forwarded the material to the Philippine Ministry of Justice in accordance with the Taiwan-Philippine mutual legal assistance agreement, Perez said.
The Pingtung-based Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28 — captained by Hung Yu-chih (洪育智) — was fired upon in waters overlapping the two nations’ exclusive economic zones 164 nautical miles (304km) southeast of Oluanpi (鵝鑾鼻), Pingtung County. The incident caused the death of Hung’s father, Hung Shih-cheng (洪石成).
The shooting led to a row between Taipei and Manila with Philippine President Benigno Aquino III instructing the Philippine National Bureau of Investigation to look into the matter while the Pingtung County Prosecutor’s Office opened its own investigation.
Taiwanese investigators who traveled to the Philippines returned to Taiwan on May 31 in possession of video footage of the shooting recorded by a PCG vessel, and after having questioned the PGC personnel involved through local investigators.
The eight Filipinos involved denied targeting the cabin of the Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28, where the crew were hiding during the incident, saying they only fired several warning shots into the air.
Taiwanese investigators said Manila refused to allow the eight to be polygraphed.
The Taiwanese team also examined the firearms used in the attack and inspected the PCG vessel involved.
While a Philippine investigation team also concluded their visit to Taiwan on May 31, items of evidence and an initial findings report — all in Mandarin Chinese — that they were given by Taiwanese prosecutors had to be translated into English before their validity could be recognized by Philippine law.
Taiwanese prosecutors said that while the initial findings reports the Philippine investigation team took back with them can be used for reference, the official certified version should still be used for a final version of the investigative report.
As of 2pm yesterday, the Philippine National Bureau of Investigation had not confirmed receipt of the Taiwanese information from its Ministry of Justice, the TECOP said, adding that this meant the bureau would be unable to conclude its investigative process.