MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines is under no compulsion to simultaneously release with Taiwan its report on the May killing of a Taiwanese fisherman, allegedly by Philippine coast guards, in the waters off Batanes, Malacañang said on Wednesday.
“Remember, these are parallel reports. As far as we know, when we are ready to release the report, as the President would order us, we will do so,” said Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda.
According to Lacierda, President Aquino was still reviewing the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) report on the fatal shooting of Taiwanese Hung Shih-chen in the waters off Balintang Channel last May 9.
Video as evidence
Taiwan and the Philippines conducted parallel investigations of the incident that set off a diplomatic row between the two.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has confirmed that the NBI had recommended the filing of criminal and administrative charges against personnel of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) over Hung’s killing.
The NBI has submitted its findings to the Department of Justice after its investigation, which entailed examining the vessels involved in the incident—the Taiwanese fishing boat and the Philippine patrol boat, which is owned by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and manned by PCG personnel.
Evidence included a video of the incident taken by the PCG. The PCG claimed it had acted in self-defense when the Taiwanese fishing boat tried to ram their vessel.
The fatal shooting of Hung sparked outrage in Taiwan. The Taipei government retaliated by freezing the hiring of Filipino workers, suspending Taiwanese travel to the Philippines and holding military drills in disputed waters.
Since the One-China policy prohibits a joint investigation, Taipei and Manila agreed to mount parallel investigations that gave their respective investigators access to witnesses and evidence.
More than a month after the incident, Lacierda said the government was hoping relations between the Philippines and Taiwan would normalize.