Philippine authorities released a Taiwanese fisherman on Wednesday after holding him for eight days for alleged illegal fishing in the country’s territorial waters.
Staff at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Manila said the Philippine government has shown goodwill by granting a speedy release to Tsai Po (蔡波).
The relatively quick resolution can be partly attributed to the outcome of the first round of fishery talks between the two countries, which were necessitated by the serious dispute over the death of a Taiwanese fisherman at the hands of the Philippine Coast Guard in May, an official said.
Tsai was caught fishing in waters about 40m off Ditarem, an islet in the northern Philippine island province of Batanes, on Sept. 3. He was operating a motor-powered raft when he was arrested on charges of illegal entry into the Philippines and poaching.
Under Philippine law, Tsai could have faced a fine of US$200,000 and had his fishing equipment, raft and catch confiscated after lengthy judicial proceedings.
Instead, the Philippine Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and local police agreed to deal with the case using administrative laws rather than judicial proceedings after the TECO requested a speedy resolution.
While Tsai was slapped with an administrative fine of US$50,000, Philippine prosecutors dropped the poaching charge.
The fine was paid on Tsai’s behalf by Representative to the Philippines Raymond Wang (王樂生).
The Philippine immigration office also exempted Tsai from detention and allowed him to navigate his raft back to Taiwan directly from the coastal town of Basco.
Tsai was back home in Hengchun yesterday.
Taiwan-Philippines relations soured after the shooting death in May, but ties have returned to normal since Taipei lifted its sanctions against Manila last month, and the two countries are set to hold a second round of fishery talks in Taipei in the near future.