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Kin of slain fisherman unaware of PH apology

PINGTUNG, Taiwan—The captain of a Taiwanese fishing boat whose father was shot and killed by the Philippine Coast Guard in disputed waters claimed on Friday he and his men were fired upon without provocation, and his family accused the Filipinos of murder.

Denying that his boat had encroached on Philippine waters, Hung Yue-chien, 39, insisted at a press conference here that the May 9 incident occurred in a “public fishing area.”

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In Manila, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agents assigned to go to Taiwan to help in the investigation said the group was ready to “leave anytime” as soon as arrangements had been finalized through the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (Meco).

Meco is the office in charge of handling relations between Manila and Taipei, which have no diplomatic ties.

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Meco representative Antonio Basilio told the Inquirer by phone that it was just a matter of time before the NBI team leaves for Taiwan.

“There are technical details— technical but important details—that are still being sorted out,” Basilio said.

8-man NBI team

The eight-member NBI team is expected to leave this weekend, said an NBI source, who asked not to be identified because of a gag order issued by the Department of Justice.

Hung, the captain of the Guang Ta Shin 28, denied the Taiwanese boat had tried to ram into the Philippine vessel belonging to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources anti-illegal fishing surveillance group. He said they were fired upon by the Filipinos without provocation.

Hung, speaking in Mandarin, which was translated into English by an official of the Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is the son of the slain fisherman. He spoke at a news conference attended by Taiwanese reporters in the family’s house on Liouciou island in Pingtung county.

Hung said he was not aware that the Philippine government had issued an apology and that this was rejected by Taipei.

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“No, I did not know about the apology,” Hung said. He also said he did not know that some Filipinos had been the target of “attacks” by Taiwanese “gangsters” as a result of the shooting incident.

On autopilot

Hung said he and his men did not often fish in the area where the shooting occurred and insisted it was a public fishing zone.

“We were traveling slowly at north territorial waters about 19 degrees and in the east about 129 [degrees] when we heard gunshots,” Hung said. He said that before he ran and hid in the boat’s cabin, “I put the boat on autopilot.”

He said that aside from his father, his crew included another Taiwanese and an Indonesian.

But the other crew members were not present during the press conference.

Compensation demand

Hung said his father was in the engine room when the gunfire started and “was hit when he looked out.”

Hung’s sister, Hung Tzu-chien, who was also at the news conference, said her family was not angry with the Filipino people but would ask for compensation. She said the death of her father was “murder.”

The daughter pressed for the release of a video of the incident supposedly taken by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG). She also said her father had a previous Filipino employee whom they described as a “good person.”

The sister insisted that the Philippine government should call for an “international” press conference and apologize for the death of her father.

She also said her family would not allow an NBI team of investigators to conduct a “reautopsy” of her father’s remains.

Meco clearance

An NBI source said the eight-man team that will conduct its own probe of what happened would include NBI–Foreign Liaison Office head agent Daniel Deganzo, team leader  James Castro, medico-legal officer Dr. Ruperto Sombilon, ballistics expert Hiyasmin Abarrioentos, agent Eduardo Ramos and artist Ligaya Banawan.

The group has been divided into four teams. “Each team has a specific task,” the source said.

The source did not say whether the Taiwanese request for a copy of the video of the supposed encounter between PCG and the Taiwanese boat would be met.

De Lima said the NBI probe team was only waiting for clearance from Meco to leave for Taiwan. “I have a standing clearance for the NBI team to leave anytime once all the needed arrangements have been made through Meco,” she said.

De Lima said Manila was standing by its position that the incident happened in Philippine waters and this would be included in the final NBI report. With reports from Jerome Aning, Norman Bordadora and Erika Sauler

 

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TAGS: Hung Yue-chien, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Manila Economic and Cultural Office, Meco, National Bureau of Investigation, NBI agents, Philippine Coast Guard, Taiwan, Taiwanese, Taiwanese Fisherman
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