US politician urges Manila to cooperate

Staff writer, with CNA, WASHINGTON

Sun, May 26, 2013 - Page 3

US House Representative and Congressional Taiwan Caucus member Blake Farenthold has issued a formal statement urging the Philippines to answer Taiwan’s demands regarding the fatal shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman by Philippine Coast Guard personnel earlier this month.

In the statement released on Thursday that was listed as a congressional record, Farenthold described the shooting of the unarmed fishing boat as an act of violence in violation of international law.

“Therefore, we call upon the Philippines to promptly and sincerely respond to the requests of the Taiwan government to apologize, punish the perpetrators and provide proper compensation to the victim’s family based on humanitarian grounds,” he said.

Hung Shih-cheng (洪石成), a 65-year-old Taiwanese fisherman, was killed on May 9 when his boat was fired on by Philippine Coast Guard personnel in the two countries’ overlapping exclusive economic zones.

Disappointed with Manila’s lack of sincerity in handling the matter, Taiwan imposed a series of retaliatory measures against the Philippines earlier this month.

In his statement, Farenthold also called for Taiwan and the Philippines — both of which he described as close and longstanding allies of the US — to work together for an immediate and peaceful resolution.

“The circumstances that have given rise to such an incident must be addressed so as to guarantee as much as possible that such an incident will never happen again,” he said, adding that eventually the two parties will have to negotiate for a bilateral agreement or treaty on fishery affairs.

Caucus co-chair Representative Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida has also issued a statement to voice his condolences to Hung’s family. Diaz-Balart also expressed hope that the incident would promote talks on a fisheries agreement between Taipei and Manila.

Meanwhile, two other US congressmen wrote letters to Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Cuisia in which they called for the signing of a Taiwan-Philippines fishery accord.

In a letter dated Friday, Representative Dennis Ross, also a member of the Taiwan Caucus, urged Manila to conduct a thorough investigation into the incident.

The other letter from Representative Kerry Bentivolio was his second since May 17, in which he again urged Manila to respond to Taiwan’s requests, which include extending a formal apology, compensating the victim’s family, investigating the incident and starting fishery talks.

The congressman said that a recent fishery agreement between Taiwan and Japan could serve as a model for resolving such disputes.