Philippine Navy opens fire at Taiwanese fishing boat, 1 dead

Taipei expressed its "grave concern" to Manila yesterday after a Taiwanese fisherman was killed by armed men aboard a Philippine vessel.

The incident in waters 164 nautical miles off the southernmost tip of Taiwan came as the Philippine navy intensified its patrols after Beijing reportedly sent one of its largest fishing fleets to the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

Taiwan's foreign ministry said the death occurred in overlapping economic zones of both the island and the Philippines when an armed vessel, identified as a Philippine ship, suddenly shot at a Taiwan-registered fishing boat operating in the area.

"The shooting caused serious damage to the boat, which subsequently lost mobility, and killed fisherman Hung Shih-cheng, 65," the ministry said in a statement. It added that the Philippine vessel was unaccounted for after the incident.

The fishing boat was towed back to Taiwan by two other Taiwanese fishing vessels, under the escort of the coastguard.

Three other crew members, including the skipper, were safe, the statement said.

The ministry asked Taiwan's representative office in Manila to "express our grave concern to the Philippine government over the incident and demand an immediate investigation of the case", as well as to find and penalise those responsible.

Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou had instructed all relevant government agencies to remain on top of the development of the case.

Taiwanese media quoted one of the crew members as saying the armed men were aboard a Philippine naval vessel.

But the ministry identified it only as a grey vessel with a white hold, which local media said matched that of a naval vessel.

Yang Yi , spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office under the mainland State Council, yesterday condemned what he described as "a barbarian act".

Though the incident did not happen anywhere in the vicinity of the highly disputed Spratly Islands, the use of firearms and an alleged Philippine naval vessel further stoked tensions in the South China Sea.

A flotilla of fishing vessels in Danzhou , Hainan , reportedly set sail on Monday for the Spratly Islands, which are claimed by the mainland, Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Philippine navy spokesman Colonel Edgardo Arevalo was quoted on Wednesday as saying that the Philippine navy was closely monitoring the movements of the Chinese flotilla.


Philippine Coast Guard admits killing Taiwanese fisherman, claims self-defense

MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippine Coast Guard on Friday admitted responsibility for the death of a Taiwanese fisherman off the coast of Batanes the day before, but said its personnel acted in self-defense when the foreign fishing vessel attempted to ram one of its ships.

A radio report said PCG commandant Admiral Rodolfo Isorena has ordered a thorough investigation of the incident in which Taiwanese fisherman as Hung Shih-Cheng, 65, died.

The report said the Coast Guard ship BFAR MCS 3001 fired at the fishing vessel "Guang Ta Hsin 28" which had a crew of three Taiwanese and an Indonesian some 164 nautical miles off Balintang Channel.

The PCG ship was attempting to accost the Guang Ta Hsin 28 and two other Taiwanese vessels.

However, the Guang Ta Hsin 28 reportedly headed for the PCG vessel to ram it, prompting its crew to open fire.

Earlier, Chinese media reported the incident involved the Philippine Navy.

The Navy denied any involvement and said all vessels of Naval Forces Northern Luzon were in port at Subic or in Sual, Pangasinan.

"The Philippine Navy denies any involvement in, much as we were saddened by, the news about an incident where a Taiwanese fisherman was reportedly shot and the wound led to his death," Navy spokesman on the West Philippine Sea, Colonel Edgard Arevalo, said.

A report run by the Chinese news agency Xinhua, quoted Tsay Tzu-yaw, deputy head of Taiwan's fishery administration, as saying a Philippine military ship opened fire on the fishing boat some 180 nautical miles off Erluanbi, the southernmost tip of Taiwan.

The Xinhua report also said the Filipino ship continued to chase and fire at the fleeing Taiwanese vessel, which sustained heavy damage.

“We strongly protest and condemn that a Philippine government boat attacked our fishing boat and demand the Philippines formally apologize, apprehend the murderer and compensate,” a statement from Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

Asked about the report, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said: "We cannot confirm it. We will check that."

The Philippine Navy on Friday denied reports in Chinese media that its personnel killed a Taiwanese fisherman Thursday morning.

The Philippines and Taiwan, along with Brunei, China and Malaysia, have conflicting claims to parts of the South China Sea.

China and Taiwan have been ruled separately since the end of a civil war in 1949, although Beijing claims the island. The Philippines has no diplomatic ties with Taiwan but maintains economic and cultural links. (with a report from Jaime Sinapit, and Agence France-Presse)


Taiwanese Fisherman's body shot dead by Philippine Coast Guard arrives in Taiwan:


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