MANILA, Philippines – A re-elected senator warned the executive branch, on Wednesday, about the implications of prosecuting members of the Coast Guard for the death of a Taiwanese fisher whose vessel intruded in Philippine waters weeks back.
Senator Gregorio Honasan, a former Army colonel, said the government should also press the Taiwanese government to hold liable its citizens caught poaching in Philippine waters.
“If we’re going to hold our own personnel liable, what’s the culpability of the Taiwanese poaching in our own waters?” Honasan told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
“We’re treading on dangerous waters here. We might set a bad precedent. What about our own interests?” he added.
Honasan said the encounter that resulted in the death of a Taiwanese fisherman as well as the uproar against Filipinos in Taiwan could happen again if the issue of Taiwanese poachers was not addressed.
“If Filipinos are caught poaching in Taiwanese waters and shot at, do you think we will be given reciprocal treatment?” Honasan said.
Honasan said a joint fishing agreement with Taiwan would ensure legal ways of dealing with poaching by either side.
“That is a positive and practical solution,” Honasan said of the fishing deal reportedly being considered.
Honasan has been calling on the government to sign joint exploration agreements with the countries that have overlapping territorial claims with the Philippines.
He said the territorial dispute with mainland China that has caused Filipino fishermen in Zambales to lose their livelihood has become a pressing concern.