May 15, 2013

TAIWAN: Taiwan President Freezes The Hiring Of Philippine Workers Over Manila's Handling Of Killing Of Taiwanese Fisherman By Philippine Coastguards

Yahoo news
written by Amber Wang
Wednesday May 15, 2013

Taiwan on Wednesday suspended the hiring of Philippine workers and recalled its envoy to Manila in protest at the killing of a fisherman, rejecting an apology for the incident as inadequate.

Philippine coastguards shot dead the 65-year-old fisherman last week after they said his vessel strayed into Manila's territorial waters, sparking outrage in Taiwan at a time of high tensions over regional maritime disputes.

Taiwan said earlier Wednesday that the Philippines had apologised for the shooting. But President Ma Ying-jeou insisted Manila offer a formal apology and compensation, apprehend the killer and launch talks on the fishing industry.

"President Ma expressed his strong dissatisfaction over the Philippines' lack of sufficient sincerity and its shifting attitude," spokeswoman Lee Chia-fei told reporters, adding that he would recall Taipei's envoy to Manila.

She said Antonio Basilio, the Philippines' de facto ambassador who made the apology after meeting Foreign Minister David Lin late Tuesday, had also been asked to return to Manila to "help properly handle" the case.

"If the Philippine government cannot satisfy our side's four demands by 6:00 pm (1000 GMT) today, our government will adopt a second wave of sanctions," Lee said.

These would include a "red" travel alert urging Taiwanese not to visit the Philippines and the suspension of exchanges between high-level officials.

There are currently 87,000 Philippine workers in Taiwan and labour authorities said nearly 2,000 new applications to work are submitted monthly.

In Manila, President Benigno Aquino's spokesman Edwin Lacierda reiterated the president's calls for calm, but declined further comment "with the objective of preventing further escalation while deliberations are ongoing".

Basilio said early Wednesday the Philippines would send special envoy Amadeo Perez to reiterate his "deep regret and apology from the people of the Philippines" to the people of Taiwan and the fisherman's family.

"The Filipino people and government understand the hurt and grief that the Taiwan people have felt at the death of the one of their fellow citizens," he told a press conference at Taiwan's foreign ministry.

Perez, who arrived in Taiwan around noon, is chairman of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office which represents the Philippines in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties.

Manila recognises Beijing rather than Taipei as the government of China.

But Taiwan's Premier Jiang Yi-huah said it was unacceptable that the apology came from the "people of the Philippines" rather than the government as it was the coastguard that was responsible for the shooting.

"Philippine civil servants killed a person and damaged the boat, the Philippine government cannot avoid responsibility," he said.

Jiang said Perez would offer a donation from the Philippine people to the fisherman's family and it was not clear "whether the Philippine government will be responsible for the compensation".

He also demanded Manila clarify whether it was conducting a criminal or an administrative investigation and what kind of punishment it plans for those responsible -- dismissal, imprisonment or a fine.

Taiwan's defence ministry said it was set to begin a drill later Wednesday aimed at defending its fishermen in waters near the Philippine island of Batan.

The shooting triggered public fury in Taiwan, and aggravated tensions that were already high over rival claims in the nearby South China Sea.

China, the Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei all have competing claims to parts of the strategic and resource-rich maritime region.

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