TAIPEI-MANILA ROW: Manila sanctions to be long-term: Jiang

BATTLE-READY::The premier said agencies must be prepared to uphold the sanctions, since Manila was unlikely to give a positive response to Taipei’s demands any time soon

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Fri, May 17, 2013 - Page 3

Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) yesterday said that sanctions imposed against Manila over its unsatisfactory response to Taiwan’s demands over the killing of a Taiwanese fisherman by Philippine Coast Guard personnel were likely to be long term.

At the Cabinet’s weekly meeting yesterday, Jiang issued a directive about a slew of punitive measures that the government has enacted against the Philippines, saying that all agencies must “stand firm” and “prepare for a prolonged ‘war’” against the Philippines.

Philippine Coast Guard personnel onboard a Philippine government vessel opened fired at the Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28 last week in disputed waters, killing Hung Shih-cheng (洪石成).

Unsatisfied with Manila’s responses to Taipei’s demands that it apologize for the incident, compensate Hung’s family, uncover the truth behind the incident to punish the culprits and begins bilateral talks over a fisheries agreement to avoid similar incidents, the government has imposed 11 sanctions against the Philippines.

The incident reflected the “structural predicament” facing Taiwan over the past several decades in its dealings with the Philippines, Jiang said.

He did not elaborate on what the “structural predicament” was, but said Taiwan is at a “juncture” to decide how to engage with the Philippines.

There was no sign that the Philippines would give a positive response to the demands in the near future, so Cabinet members should “mentally prepare” themselves for upholding the sanctions for a long time, Jiang said.

Jiang said the government did not rule out imposing a new stage of punitive measures toward the Philippines if it deemed it necessary.

As the stalemate continues, Manila Economic and Culture Office (MECO) Chairman Amadeo Perez, who traveled to Taiwan on Wednesday as “personal representative” of Philippine President Benigno Aquino III to negotiate on the issue, left Taiwan at 1:30pm yesterday, along with expelled Philippine Representative to Taiwan and MECO Managing Director Antonio Basilio.

During his stay, Perez said he had come to convey Aquino and the Filipino people’s deep regret and apology over Hung’s death, as well as their readiness to give financial assistance to Hung’s family as a token of solidarity and an expression of sympathy.

Perez again characterized the incident as unfortunate and “unintended,” a description that the Taiwanese government and Hung’s family feel is unacceptable.

Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂) yesterday again rejected Perez’s request for a meeting.

Ministry spokesperson Anna Kao (高安) said Perez was denied a meeting with Lin because “the Philippines has not yet have positive, unequivocal and concrete responses to the four demands the ROC [Republic of China] government has made.”

In Manila, Aquino spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the Philippine government has already prepared contingency measures to respond to the sanctions imposed by Taiwan.

At a press conference yesterday, Lacierda was pressed to divulge to what else the Aquino administration would do to resolve the situation.

In response to question on what Manila can do to “appease” Taiwan, he said his government has done everything that a “decent and responsible member of international community” should do.

“We have gone [the] extra mile, the president has sent personal representative to extend his apology to the family of Mr Hung,” Lacierda said.

Lacierda said the sanctions imposed by Taiwan would hurt both countries.

Lacierda refused to say whether the visit by Perez was a “last-ditch” attempt to mend ties with Taiwan, saying he was not in a position to speak on the matter.

A Taiwanese investigation team led by Perry Shen (申佩璜), the director-general of the ministry’s Department of Treaty and Legal Affairs, has reportedly arrived in the Philippines yesterday to look into the incident following Manila’s agreement to conduct a joint investigation involving law enforcement from both sides.

Asked about this, Lacierda said he was “not aware of any approval of any joint investigation” and stressed that protocols under the mutual legal assistance agreement between the two countries would be observed.