Mon, Jun 15, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Manila envoy touts links with Taipei, fisheries deal

Staff writer, with CNA

Taipei and Manila could sign an agreement to cooperate on law enforcement in fisheries matters in their overlapping territorial waters next month, Manila Economic and Culture Office Managing Director Antonio Basilio said.

He said that his government would hold a Cabinet meeting this week or the week after to discuss the draft agreement and whether to approve it.

“We will try to have it signed by the end of July,” he said at an event in Taipei on Friday. “At this stage, I am optimistic that we will be able to do that.”

Speaking at an event celebrating the 117th anniversary of Philippine Independence Day, Basilio said Taiwan and the Philippines are “each other’s closest neighbor,” and the possibility of misunderstandings from such proximity do arise from time to time.

“The strength of our long-standing friendship and our shared values of democracy and the rule of law have enabled us to prevent these from escalating,” he said.

“This experience has given us the confidence to squarely face the issues and to prevent these from recurring,” he said.

He cited the potential agreement as an example of the two sides’ willingness to prevent disputes from escalating.

The agreement covers a consensus reached by the two countries to not use force or violence when patrolling fishing grounds, to establish a mechanism to inform each other in the event of fishery incidents and to release detained fishermen and boats as soon as possible.

Taipei and Manila have been negotiating the pact since late 2013 — one of a series of steps taken to improve relations after Philippine Coast Guard officers shot at a Taiwanese fishing boat on May 9 of that year in waters where the two countries’ exclusive economic zones overlap, killing a Taiwanese fisherman.

Basilio also lauded Taiwan’s contributions to maintaining peace and stability in the region.

Asked about President Ma Ying-jeo’s (馬英九) South China Sea Peace Initiative, he said Manila supports peaceful settlements of the disputes and respect for the rule of law.

The initiative, proposed last month, calls for putting aside differences and promoting the joint development of resources in the disputed resource-rich region.

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