Calm seen as key to resolving Philippines row


TAIPEI — A rational approach is the key to resolving the months-long row between Taiwan and the Philippines that erupted over the shooting death of a Taiwanese fisherman at the hands of the Philippine Coast Guard, sources familiar with diplomatic affairs said yesterday.

The sources expressed optimism that differences between the two countries could be overcome this week, in light of the release of the Philippine National Bureau of Investigation’s long-awaited investigative report on the incident which recommends homicide charges against eight Filipino officers.

If convicted, the Philippine Coast Guard officers would face sentences of 12 to 20 years in prison.

The positive turn is a result of continued negotiations between Taipei and Manila, sources said, stressing that fishermen’s safety and national sovereignty are priorities for Taiwan.

The incident occurred on May 9, when Hung Shih-cheng, a fisherman aboard the Taiwanese fishing vessel Kuang Ta Hsing No.28, was killed by gunfire from a Philippine Coast Guard vessel in an area where two country’s exclusive economic zones overlap.

Taiwan’s demands to the Philippines after the fatal shooting include a formal apology, compensation, an investigation, punishment for the officers responsible for the killing and a speedy start to formal fishery talks between the two countries.