Manila response ‘flippant’, ultimatum stands: gov’t

By The China Post | Source: ANN
Taiwan’s Presidential Office spokeswoman Garfie Li yesterday said that the Philippines will have to pay the price if it shows no sincerity in solving a dispute over the shooting of a Taiwanese sailor.

The Philippines’ Presidential Office offered its “deepest sympathies and condolences” yesterday to the family of the fisherman who was killed in an incident involving a Philippine patrol boat, and vowed to conduct an “impartial, transparent and expeditious” investigation into the tragedy.

The Presidential Office considers the Philippines’ statement “flippant” and said it showed no sincerity in solving the problem, Li said.

Less than 24 hours after Taiwan issued an ultimatum to the Philippines, a deputy spokesperson at the Philippines’ Presidential Office issued a statement on the incident that occurred on May 9 in waters south of Taiwan. A 65-year-old fisherman aboard a Taiwanese fishing boat was killed by gunfire from a Philippines state vessel.

According to the Philippines’ statement, Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail F. Valte said “as the Philippine Coast Guard has stated, we express our heartfelt sorrow on the unfortunate situation that occurred during one of the anti-illegal fishing patrols conducted by a Philippine fishery law enforcement vessel (MCS 3001) within the maritime jurisdiction (waters off the Batanes group of islands) of the Philippines on the morning of May 9, 2013, which tragically resulted in the death of a fisherman from one of the fishing vessels reportedly poaching in the area.”

“We extend our sincere and deepest sympathies and condolences to the bereaved family of the victim,” Valte said.

Antonio Basilio, head of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office in Taiwan, which represents Philippine interests in Taiwan in the absence of official ties, has extended condolences and offered his apologies to the fisherman’s family in person, Valte noted.

The spokesperson said an investigation has begun with the arrival of the commander of the MCS 3001. The commander and crew of the vessel have been relieved of their duties, she said.

“The Philippine Coast Guard, together with other agencies, assures everyone that this investigation will be conducted in an impartial, transparent and expeditious manner,” Valte added.

The Philippines will look into ways of preventing similar incidents in the future, she said.

Taiwan Presidential Office spokesperson Lee said Basilio visited and apologized to the victim’s family three days ago, however, his apology was not recognised by Philippines. In light of this, Taiwan did not consider it a formal apology from the Philippines.

Taiwan’s Presidential Office demanded late Saturday that the Philippines issue a formal apology, compensate the victim’s family for their loss, investigate the incident and punish the perpetrators, and start fishery agreement talks with Taiwan as soon as possible.

If the Philippines fails to respond appropriately by midnight Tuesday, Taiwan will suspend importation of Philippine labour, recall its representative in Manila, and ask the Philippine envoy in Taiwan to return to his home country, the Presidential Office said.