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NBI: Homicide raps vs 8 PCG men in Taiwan case

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CLOSE TO CLOSURE In this photo taken on May 29, NBI agents assisted by Taiwanese probers inspect the bullet-riddled fishing boat Guang Ta Hsin 28 at the Tungkang harbor in Taiwan. The NBI has recommended the filing of homicide charges against eight Filipino Coast Guard personnel for the death in May of a Taiwanese fisherman on his boat. AFP

MANILA, Philippines—The National Bureau of Investigation said Wednesday it was recommending homicide charges against eight Filipino coast guards for the killing of a Taiwanese fisherman in May.

Taiwanese prosecutors brought homicide charges against the eight Filipino coast guards in Taiwan on Wednesday, in what is seen as a symbolic move that signifies agreement with the Philippine investigators’ findings.

At the same time, Taiwan’s foreign ministry announced that it would recommend that the government in Taipei lift sanctions against the Philippines and improve relations between the two countries.

The NBI recommendation is a downgrading of the murder charges brought by the fisherman’s daughter during the Philippine investigation of the case in Taiwan in June.

NBI Director Nonnatus Rojas said NBI investigators found “no qualifying circumstance” to recommend murder charges against the coast guards.

“The incident was unplanned and unpremeditated,” as it happened while the coast guards were conducting legitimate law enforcement, though a “deadly weapon was wrongfully applied,” the NBI report said.

It also said “there was no abuse of superior strength because the firing was made intermittently and not fully taken advantage of by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) personnel.”

“The force employed was mainly aimed to disable the engine and not to maim or kill the fishermen,” the report said.

No treachery

There was also “no treachery,” as the use of firearms by the coast guards was not “sudden and unexpected” and “sufficient warning” had been made by the coast guards through repeated warning shots and the blowing of their vessel’s horn.

“[The] eight PCG personnel were the ones who had admitted to having fired their firearms” leading to the death of 65-year-old fisherman Hung Shih-chen, Rojas told reporters in a news conference.

“[Their] collective act of indiscriminately firing at the fishing vessel makes them equally liable for the death of the Taiwanese fisherman,” Rojas said.

Since all eight admitted firing guns, they would all face the same charge under the principle that they acted in “conspiracy,” Rojas said.

“The NBI report recommends that criminal charges of homicide be filed against these eight PCG personnel,” Rojas said.

“Though there were 17 PCG [personnel] on board the vessel, only eight fired directly at the Taiwanese boat, including their commander,” Rojas said.

Obstruction of justice

The commanding officer of the Philippine vessel MCS-3001, Arnold de la Cruz, the executive officer, Lt. (j.g.) Martin Bernabe, and two other coast guards, Seamen First Class Mhelvin Bendo and Marvin Ramirez, will also be charged with obstruction of justice “because they tampered with evidence during the investigation,” Rojas said.

Explaining the obstruction charge, Rojas said the four men spliced a videotape of the incident with the intention of removing incriminating evidence.

The NBI report quoted Ramirez as saying that Bernabe instructed him to splice portions of the tape that “showed the PCG crew firing at the Taiwanese vessel.”

The NBI report said De la Cruz also allegedly ordered the falsification of his unit’s monthly gunnery report “to reflect a smaller amount of ammunition used during the shooting incident.”

Among those to be charged with homicide in Manila is Seaman First Class Edrano Quiapo Aguila, who was found to have fired the bullet that killed Hung.

Rojas said the charges would be filed in the Department of Justice.

Under Philippine law, the prosecutor will determine whether there is enough evidence to take the case to court.

If convicted the eight coast guards face 12 to 20 years in prison, Rojas said.

‘Constructive response’

Calling Manila’s move a “constructive response,” the Taiwanese foreign ministry said Wednesday it would recommend that the Taipei government improve relations with the Philippines, including lifting sanctions imposed after the shooting death of Hung.

In a separate move, Taiwanese prosecutors on Wednesday charged the eight Filipino coast guards with homicide in Taipei.

The indictment was considered symbolic as it is unlikely that the Philippines will allow the accused to be tried in Taiwan due to the lack of formal diplomatic ties between the two countries.

“The Philippine Coast Guard illegally chased an unarmed fishing boat for 75 minutes and fired more than 100 shots at it, which was clearly not proper defense . . . and with an intent to kill,” the Taiwanese prosecutors said in a statement.

The others facing homicide charges are Bendo, Seamen First Class Andy Gibb Ronario Golfo, Sunny Galang Masangcay and Henry Baco Solomon, Seaman Second Class Nicky Reynold Aurello, and PO2 Richard Fernandez Corpuz.

Bernabe and Ramirez will be charged only with obstruction of justice.

Nine other coast guards who were on the MCS-3001, as well as three Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) personnel with them, will not be charged, Rojas said.

The MCS-3001 is owned by BFAR, but operated by the Philippine Coast Guard.

No comment

The PCG declined to comment on Rojas’ announcement of the results of the NBI investigation of the shooting death of Hung.

Cmdr. Armand Balilo, PCG spokesman, said the command was still waiting for a copy of the NBI investigative report.

Rear Adm. Rodolfo Isorena, PCG commandant, said earlier that his command would respect the NBI findings.

“If our men are found to have violated the Coast Guard rules of engagement, then they would have to face the consequences of their actions,” Isorena said.

The shooting happened on May 9 off Balintang Island in waters claimed by both the Philippines and Taiwan.

The coast guards claimed the Taiwanese fishing boat Guan Ta Hsin 28 intruded into Philippine waters and refused to heave when they ordered it to stop.

Instead the fishing boat tried to ram the MCS-3001, forcing the coast guards to shoot it in self-defense, they claimed.

But Rojas said the coast guards failed to prove that the fishing boat tried to ram their vessel.

In an interview, Rojas said poaching charges could be brought against the Taiwanese fishermen and this would be based on the recommendation of the BFAR personnel who were aboard the MCS-3001 during the incident.

Rojas said the incident happened in Philippine waters, approximately 72 kilometers from the country’s baseline and within its exclusive economic zone.

Rojas said no outside influence led to the NBI recommendation to bring homicide charges against the coast guards.

Malacañang clearance

Rojas said the 84-page report was submitted to President Aquino on June 10.

The NBI released the result of its investigation on Wednesday after Malacañang had given clearance to make it public through Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Rojas said.—With reports from Jerry E. Esplanada and AFP

 

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  • AsteroidSized Zit

    THE TRUTH COMES OUT!

  • PurpleDaisy13

    Watch the ruthless Filipino mobsters of Philippines Coast Guard chase and bully the small unarmed Taiwanese civilian fishing boat with Military Firepower here:

    (change comma to dot)
    youtube,com/watch?v=T8IpLBu-fZg

    Then match it up with all of the comments made by the disgusting, misguided, crooked, corrupt, supporters of the Philippines Coast Guard on this forum. These are the kinds of dumb, primitive, uneducated Filipinos we’re dealing with here.

    hhahahahaahahahahahhHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    • purpledaisy13.

      naku. Nagwala na! hahahahahha tell your wife to bring you in Mental hospital.

      • .Hugo

        correction:

        chased, fired, gun jammed, turned to the camera and said “cheeeeeese” :D

      • Punyëtero»Ka

        I would gladly pull the trigger if you fockhead was on my sights!! LOL!!

    • .Hugo

      chased, fired, turned to the camera and said “cheeeeeese” :D

      • Punyëtero»Ka

        I would gladly pull the trigger if you fockhead was on my sights!! ROTFL!!

      • .Hugo

        that’s why china and taiwan have to equipped their coast guards well to counter the philippine violent intention towards chinese.

        and no wonder the philippine coast guard pirates can only run away or hide when they see the chinese and taiwanese coast guards.

      • Punyëtero»Ka

        So go arsefock yourself, & wonder no more! LOLl!!

  • Hannibal

    Very sane indeed. If all in the world handle their affairs like this, there will never be war.

  • Mang Teban

    A sad day for the Philippines as murder has been considered the angle of the shooting of an intruding Taiwanese fishing vessel (or poaching in our territorial waters). If a trespasser enters a private property fully aware that “trespassers will be arrested or shot at”, then the investigation should have seen the right of the Coast Guard to send a strong message to trespassers as it is also its mandated duty to defend the Philippine territory at all times (at all costs).

    It is regrettable that the captain of the Taiwanese vessel died from gunshot. But, the firing was not aimed at the captain or to any member of the fishing boat trespassing in Philippine territory. The shots were fired on the sides of the boat where the CG had no intention to kill.

    Poaching by the Taiwanese fishing boat is a more grievous offense against our nation than the accidental firing (with no intention to kill). What is wrong with this administration of the sitting president PNoy kowtowing to the demands of the foreign nation violating and acting like its kleptomaniac big brother China forcing their vessels to enter our national territory?

    • PinoyPride

      I don’t see how poaching could ever be more grievous than an act of killing a fellow human being, accidental or not. But I agree that poaching is indeed a grave offense against our nation. The question is how are we going to prove that the Taiwanese fishing boat was indeed poaching in our waters? The PCG abandoned the scene right after indiscriminately firing at the unarmed fishing vessel, they did not make any arrests or collect any evidence of poaching.

      In the eyes of the law, all suspects are innocent until proven guilty. With no evidence of poaching, they could jolly well claim that they were making innocent passage through our waters as allowed under UNCLOS. Based on the current evidence, the only guilty party in this situation is the trigger happy PCG.

      • Mang Teban

        That is ridiculous to believe the Taiwanese fishing vessel to say that it was just passing through. Passing through from where to where? I am no navigator but it is easy to see that Taiwan fishermen passing through Philippine waters at the northern side was poaching because there is a wide ocean lane between Taiwan and the Philippines. If this Taiwanese vessel is equipped with navigational equipment, it cannot possibly just passed through. It is just as simple as saying why the Chinese vessel hit the Tubattaha marine reserve in the east side of Palawan, a few months back after just some days after the wayward (?) American frigate hit the same reef. Both foreign vessels defied the warnings made by Filipino guardians at the Tubbattaha sent by audio communication in mobile radio.
        Are we to believe then that the Philippine Coast Guard did not make any attempt to warn the Taiwanese that they were poaching into Philippine waters?

        If you care to know what goes in our fishing villages, you will be surprised to know that foreign vessels like the Taiwanese fishing boats “pass through” Philippine waters NOT to fish but to trade something else. The Taiwanese entice Filipinos to sell LIVE marine animals that are endemic to our country like the “banagan” (crayfish) or the lapu-lapu at hard-to-refuse prices per kilo even if the local government of Palawan has banned the catching and trading of these marine animals. Other illegal activities include “chop-chop” motorcycles and drugs by the foreigners who came by fishing vessels “undetected” by our PCG…maybe because it is under-equipped and under-manned. Now, they are demoralized and beleaguered by the “backroom dealing” by Taiwan and Philippine authorities….What an irony!

      • PinoyPride

        The question is not whether it is easy to see that the Taiwanese fishermen were poaching, the only matter of consequence in this situation is whether it is easy to prove that this particular fishing vessel was indeed poaching in our waters. Your accusation is just a baseless assumption if it can’t be backed up with solid evidence.

        The PCG is a law enforcement agency but they failed to enforce the law by making arrests and collecting evidence, they even tried to cover up the incident by making false reports and splicing videos. If the Taiwanese government had not reacted as strongly as it did, I am sure this whole incident would have been swept right under the carpet.

        I also don’t think you can suggest that the PCG is under equipped and undermanned. The PCG vessel is close to 3 times bigger than the Taiwanese fishing vessel, fully armored, with more than 10 officers on board all fully armed with riffles and they are capable of firing more than 100 rounds in less than 2 hours. I don’t see how they are under equipped or undermanned. If anything, they are over equipped and overmanned. I’m sure all the illegal activities carried out by foreign vessels are more due to the lack of integrity and professionalism by the PCG than being under equipped or undermanned.

        You say the PCG is demoralized and beleaguered? I’m sure that’s what those who have supported and believed in the innocence of the PCG are feeling right now. That is true irony!

      • Mang Teban

        I shall leave you with your own observations and respect your own view on the incident.
        I hope that you would do the same for me. I just want to say a final word – media reports are not conclusive either and the truth can always be twisted with manipulations by news agencies themselves. I am simply stating the ominous fact that Taiwan refused to accept PNoy’s apology and floated the work permit blackmail on our OFWs. And, in my view, the Philippine president chose to kowtow to Taiwan’s position that investigators declare that the PCG acting in bad faith by firing guns even if there was no threat on the patrol boat; that there was an apparent coverup and inconsistencies in the statements from the PCG personnel involved.
        I am sorry but I am not easily hoodwinked by manipulated stories. No matter how our president acted to save face and put our OFWs back to Taiwan to unload our government of rising unemployment rate. No matter how big the PCG vessel was, as you say, the fact remains that our PCG men had acted in good faith and had no intention to commit murder or homicide. Besides, the poaching is a real problem along the coastlines of our country from all directions. If you were to choose between the life of one Taiwanese captain and the loss of livelihood by hundreds of thousands of Filipino fishermen aside from the depleting coral reefs that Taiwanese and Chinese vessels carelessly ram into, I don’t know if you can still afford to say that this incident was just an isolated case because it ain’t. Many poaching incidents go unreported and our Philippine Coast Guard is helpless to run after them because it is the glaring reality that they lack equipment and personnel.

      • PinoyPride

        Thank you for respecting my views, I will respect your opinions as well. As you wish, you may have the final word and I shall leave our discussion at that.

  • anongaba

    We do understand how serious the issue and the trouble that it cause, maraming nadamay mga kababayan nating OFW na nasa Taiwan, mga naghihintay ng deployment para makapag trabaho, ganon din ang mga negosyante at mga kaibigan nating Taiwanese na tumutulong sa pag ganda ng ekonamiya ng Pilipinas. Kailangan natin ang malalim na pang unawa sa disisyon na masampahan
    ng kaso ang ating nga sundalo. Sa ating gobyerno at kay Pnoy, ito ay isa kritikal na desisyon it’s a total act of sincere diplomacy.

    Di naman nangangahulugan na duwag tayo, alam natin na tayo ay may dugong pinoy na laging handang protektahan ang ating karapatan. Pero sa pagkakataong ito ang kailangan natin ay diplomasya at ang malalim na pang unawa at sinseridad. Kailanagn natin ito upang di na lumala ang sitwasyon at mas marami pa ang maaapektuhan.

    Sa ating mga sundalo, Bayani kayo, tumatayo kayong sacrificial Lamb. Huwag tayong mag alala sa magiging sitwasyon nila kung sakali parusa ay maipataw. Di sila makukulong sa Taiwan! Sagot kayo ng Gobyerno para lang naman kayong magbabakasyon the best for you is yet to come. Good Luck and GOD Bless the Filipinos and the Philippines.



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