MANILA–The Philippine Navy on Friday denied allegations that its forces had shot dead a crewman of a Taiwan fishing vessel, saying none of its ships were in the area at the time of the apparent incident.
“The Philippine Navy denies any involvement in… an incident where a Taiwanese fisherman was reportedly shot and the wound led to his death,” the statement said.
The naval commander in the area said his ships were in port or very close to the Philippine coast at the time, the statement added.
A spokesman for the Philippine coast guard, which is a separate service from the Philippine Navy, could not be contacted for comment.
Asked about the report, Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said: “We cannot confirm it. We will check that”.
Taiwan’s foreign ministry said that a Taiwanese fishing vessel carrying three Taiwanese and one Indonesian crewman was fired upon early Thursday by a “Philippine government boat”.
The incident, some 164 nautical miles off the southernmost tip of Taiwan, left one of the Taiwan crewmen dead.
The ministry did not specify what type of government boat allegedly fired upon the vessel, while Taiwan’s coast guard said it was trying to verify reports that it was a Philippine Navy vessel.
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.