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Feud not between Filipinos and Taiwanese, says Ma Ying-jeou

Publication Date : 23-05-2013


Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou said yesterday that a row between Taiwan and the Philippines is not a dispute between the two countries' peoples but between the people of Taiwan and the Philippine government.

The Kuomintang yesterday held its weekly Central Standing Committee meeting in which Foreign Minister David Lin gave a report on the incident.

On May 9, a Taiwanese fisherman was killed by Philippine coast guards while operating in waters claimed by both Taiwan and the Philippines.

With regard to claims about mounting animosity toward Filipinos in Taiwan, Lin expressed concern for Philippine workers and students, adding that the Republic of China is a nation that cherishes peace.

“We hope to provide a friendly environment for Filipinos in Taiwan,” said the minister, urging the Ministry of Education and the Council of Labor Affairs to ensure that Filipinos in Taiwan are unaffected by the incident.

“Over the past decade, there have been 22 fishing boat incidents between Taiwan and the Philippines. In the past, we have always tried to resolve the issues swiftly through peaceful means. This time our administration has taken a stronger stance, firmly demanding that the Philippine government make amends - not only to resolve the issue at hand, but also to ensure that future fishery-related matters can be resolved through better means,” Lin said.

When a government exceeds the boundaries of international law and causes the death of another nation's citizen, regardless of the investigation's outcome, it should at least express a willingness to apologize and compensate, the president said, adding that it comes down to a matter of “attitude.”

According to Article 73 of the Law of the Sea treaty, a state may only take four measures within its economic exclusive zone against violating vessels, and those are boarding, inspection, arrest and judicial proceedings, Ma said, adding that the state is prohibited from taking measures such as imprisonment let alone opening fire.

Investigators discovered 26 bullet holes within a 5-metre radius of the cabin, indicating that the Philippine coast guards concentrated their firing on the cabin, which was where the fishermen were hiding, Ma said, adding that this is one of the reasons why investigators are probing the case as an intentional homicide.

The suspects, the weapons and the official vessel are all in the Philippines, while the corpse of the victim and the fishing boat are in Taiwan; therefore, both sides need to cooperate in order to solve the case, the president said, adding that the Ministry of Justice and its Philippine counterpart are currently in talks over the investigation.

Even if the Taiwanese fishing boat had entered the territorial waters of the Philippines, the Philippine coast guards would still have had no right to open fire on the fishermen - an act which is expressly forbidden among international parties, the president said

When incidents like this happen, the government is responsible, and this is precisely why Taipei has been demanding official responses from Manila, Ma added.

“This is not a problem between the people of Taiwan and the people of the Philippines. This is a problem between the people of Taiwan and the Philippine administration,” the president stressed.


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