Fishing boat crew get subpoenas to appear before panel

AFP, MANILA

Mon, Sep 02, 2013 - Page 3

A Philippine panel preparing homicide charges against some of the country’s coast guards over the death of a Taiwanese fisherman has formally asked the victim’s fellow crewmembers to appear before it, Manila’s secretary of justice said yesterday.

Those asked to appear before the justice department investigation were the three companions of slain fisherman Hung Shih-cheng (洪石成), 63, whose shooting death at sea in May badly damaged relations between the two nations.

“The panel of prosecutors subpoenaed them through TECO [Taipei Economic and Cultural Office],” Philippine Secretary of Justice Leila de Lima said.

The presence of the three was necessary for them to “subscribe and swear to their affidavits” about the incident, De Lima said.

The three were requested to appear on Sept. 9, but it was not immediately clear whether the Taiwanese government had responded to the request.

The Philippines and Taiwan began repairing a serious diplomatic rift after Filipino authorities earlier last month recommended homicide charges against the coast guards following pressure from Taiwan.

That move was welcomed by the government, which reciprocated by lifting a ban on the hiring of new Filipino workers in Taiwan.

About 87,000 Filipinos work in Taiwan, according to official figures.

The May 9 incident occurred in waters near an island in the Philippines’ extreme north, which Taiwan also claims as part of its exclusive economic zone.