Philippines waiting for Taiwan anger to cool
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is waiting for tempers in Taiwan to cool before settling the dispute over a shot Taiwanese fisherman, the head of an office in charge of relations said Sunday.
Issues like Manila’s “one-China” policy and comments by Taiwanese investigators branding the incident as murder have complicated the situation, said Amadeo Perez, chairman of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office.
“We are waiting for the right time because I was told by the secretary-general for Asian affairs, we should wait for the temperature in Taiwan to cool,” Perez said in a radio interview.
“The Taiwanese are highly emotional and… the media in Taiwan is heating things up so tempers are running high.”
Anger has grown in Taiwan after a 65-year-old Taiwanese fisherman was shot dead on May 9 by the Philippine Coast Guard.
Taiwan has imposed sanctions against the Philippines, banning the entry of any more workers, recalling its de facto envoy and holding a military exercise in waters near the northern Philippines last week.
The coastguard said the fishing vessel had intruded into Philippine waters and tried to ram their own patrol boat.
A Taiwan investigative team which visited the country last week described the shooting as “murder”, but Perez said the Taiwanese had not coordinated with local authorities before making the accusation.
Perez, whose office is in charge of relations in the absence of diplomatic ties, said lines of communication between his agency and the Taiwanese foreign ministry were still active despite the controversy.
He said the Philippine Justice Department was still studying a request for a joint investigation when the Taiwanese made their allegations this weekend.
The investigators’ remarks “will further inflame the people of Taiwan”, he warned.
Perez also said Taiwan wanted Philippine President Benigno Aquino personally to write a letter of apology, but this could be considered a violation of the country’s one-China policy — recognizing Beijing rather than Taipei as the government of China.
Last week Aquino sent Perez to Taiwan to convey his apologies but Taiwan rejected the message.
Perez also thanked Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou for his promise to protect the 87,000 Filipinos working in Taiwan after a Filipino worker there was attacked with a baseball bat amid public fury.