Coast Guard insists it was not liable for death of Taiwanese fisherman
MANILA, Philippines—There is no evidence to hold the Philippine Coast Guard liable for the death of a Taiwanese fisherman, according to a joint affidavit it submitted to the Department of Justice stated.
In a counter-affidavit, Commander Arnold Dela Cruz, Seaman 1st class Edrando Aguila, Sonny Masangcay and Henry Solomon said Philippine investigators from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) were not allowed to directly examine the vessel used by the fishermen during the incident nor were they allowed to autopsy the body of Hung Shih-Cheng who was allegedly shot by the PCG crewmen on board MCS 3001.
The NBI in their complaint alleged that the bullet from the Springfield Caliber 7.62 mm M-14 rifle killed Cheng and that SN1 Endrando Aguila was the one who fired the said firearm.
However, in their counter-affidavit, they pointed that Hiyasmin Abarrientos, one of the NBI’s ballisticians, admitted that she was not able to conduct a proper ballistics test and cross-matching on the M-14 as well as the slugs recovered from the boat.
While in Taiwan to examine the vessel, she said they found a bullet from a caliber 7.62 mm rifle lodged at the pipe in the ceiling of the fish storage of the vessel but she was not allowed by the Taiwanese authorities to extract the bullet.
“In other words, Abarrientos herself admits that the correct and scientific manner by which a ballistics test is conducted is to compare the slug recovered from the crime scene with the results of the round fired from the firearm in question,” the joint counter-affidavit stated.
“However, in order that a ballistics examination may constitute evidence, i.e., that the integrity of such an examination be above question, it is essential to show that the slug being examined was in fact taken from the crime scene…Stated otherwise, if the chain of custody is not observed, the alleged match between the firearm and the slug cannot be considered evidence.”
The PCG further stated that the NBI’s Dr. Ruperto Sombilon Jr. admitted that he never saw Cheng’s remains and did not conduct an autopsy.
They also insisted that they were in the exercise of their duty in protecting the Philippine territory.
Aside from being hostile, the PCG said the Taiwanese ship was engaged in poaching.
Both the NBI and Taiwanese government conducted investigation on the incident.
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