Family members of fisherman Hung Shih-cheng (洪石成), who was killed on Thursday when a Philippine Coast Guard vessel fired at the fishing boat he was working on, yesterday lambasted Taiwan’s officials for only paying lip service and not making any actual effort to address and resolve the issue.
Hung, 65, was shot dead by somebody aboard a Philippine vessel as the Taiwanese boat Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28 was operating about 164 nautical miles (304km) off the southern coast of Taiwan. According to Coast Guard Administration Deputy Minister Cheng Chang-hsiung (鄭樟雄), the Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28 has 32 bullet holes as evidence of the attack.
Slamming the Philippine vessel’s action as “barbaric,” Hung’s daughter Hung Tzu-chien (洪慈綪) yesterday said that at the time of the incident the Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28 had not cast its net and was only passing through the area en route to a port.
She also criticized the Taiwanese government for disregarding the value of human life.
Hung Tzu-chien said she called for governmental units to dispatch a helicopter or a ship as soon as the family learned that Hung Shih-cheng was hurt.
“The Maritime Police Department told me to follow procedures and file an application,” she said, adding that in the three hours between her application and her father’s death, the department had not sent any support vessels or aircraft.
“The bureaucracy effectively killed my father with its stubborn adherence to protocol,” she added.
The government should hold an international press conference in Pingtung County’s Liouciou Township (琉球), and publicly demand reparations and justice from the Philippine government, Hung Tzu-chien said.
She also called on the government to expedite the administrative process, so that bureaucratic procedures would not harm fishermen’s rights again, adding that the numerous visits by government officials to her house yesterday were only for show.
In response, Minister Without Portfolio Lin Jung-tzer (林政則), who visited the family yesterday, said the government was doing its best to safeguard the nation’s fishermen.
Premier Chiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) intends to continue to negotiate with other nations on overlapping exclusive economic zones, Lin said, adding that the negotiations include the Philippines.
The Liouciou Fishermen Association said the Hung family’s indignation was understandable, but added that at the time of the incident the information was unclear and by the time it received an official report at 1pm, the victim had already died.
Separately yesterday, Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂) dismissed criticism over the perceived slow pace of lodging a protest against the Philippines, saying the ministry has been actively looking into the case since it was notified of the incident at 1pm on Thursday.
When the incident happened, it was unclear whether the Philippine vessel belonged to its navy, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources or the Philippine Coast Guard, and the information was only verified when Representative to the Philippines Raymond Wang (王樂生) met with Philippine Coast Guard officials at about 7pm, Lin said.
The ministry on Thursday issued a press release at 6:40pm saying that the fishing boat was shot at by an “unidentified vessel” from the Philippine and expressed “grave concern” over the incident, followed by a second statement at 11:18pm, confirming it was a Philippines government vessel, and that it had lodged a “strong protest” and raised three demands — apology, compensation and justice.