TAIPEI- MANILA ROW: Fisherman’s family demand evidence

By Yeh Yung-chien, Lee Li-fa and Jake Chung

CARELESS OR CALLOUS?Hung Shih-Cheng’s daughter compared the Philippine Coast Guard to Somalian pirates and asked how they could have unintentionally fired 57 shots

Family members of the Taiwanese fisherman who was shot dead during an incident involving a Philippine government vessel last week demanded that Manila provide evidence of its claim that the Taiwanese ship was at fault and had provoked the incident.

On May 9, the Taiwanese boat, Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28, was strafed by a joint patrol of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources. The 65-year-old Hung Shih-cheng (洪石成) was shot dead in the incident.

The shooting took place 164 nautical miles (304km) southeast of Taiwan’s southernmost tip in waters in the overlapping exclusive economic zones of Taiwan and the Philippines.

The PCG’s incident report claimed the Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28 attempted to ram the coast guard ship and escape, forcing it to open fire and give chase.

Hung Shih-cheng’s son, Hung Yu-chih (洪育智), the captain of the Taiwanese vessel, on Friday rebutted the claim, saying that as his ship was small and made of fiberglass, it would have been ridiculous for it to attempt to ram the Philippine government boat.

“No definitive statements have been made by Manila, who initially said that we rammed their coast guard ship and then claimed we hit a buoy,” Hung Yu-chih said.

He added that according to Taiwanese prosecutors, “we were not in Philippine territorial waters. Manila should provide evidence if it disagrees with Taiwan’s findings.”

According to the Pingtung County Prosecutor’s Office, the Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28’s voyage data recorder (VDR) recorded the ship’s location, course and speed on May 9, adding that the location of the Philippine Coast Guard’s ship was not available.

There were no signs of damage on the fishing ship’s hull to back up Manila’s claims, the prosecutor said, calling for Manila to make public footage recorded when it conducted an investigation of the coast guard ship to shed light on the matter.

Commenting on Philippine media reports on Friday which described the PCG’s report of the May 9 shooting as “like a scene out of an action movie” in which the Philippine vessel was “dodging two fishing boats that tried to sink the law enforcer’s ship as they engaged the ‘bad guys’ in a high seas chase,” Hung Shih-cheng’s daughter Hung Tzu-chien (洪慈綪) asked: “How are the Philippine coast guards’ actions different from Somalian pirates? Can we not call them pirates for killing people on the sea? Firing 57 shots is called ‘unintended?’”

Pingtung County Councilor Lu Tung-hsieh (盧同協) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), meanwhile, criticized the Philippine government and said Manila would not let any video that would embarrass Taiwanese authorities remain under wraps if it had such footage.

“The video would have been released if the Taiwanese vessel had instigated the incident,” Lu said.

“Manila is attempting to sway international opinion in its favor by shifting the blame onto our shoulders,” Lu said.

Lu added that the Taiwanese government, backed by the full support of the people, should demand and receive a satisfactory response from the Philippine government or else President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration would be regarded as weak on the international stage.


Original Article