TAIWAN IMPOSES NEW DEMANDS / TAIWAN CAPITAL (TAIPEI) REJECTS P-NOY'S APOLOGY


[PHILSTAR MAY 10 PHOTO: An officer of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) presents the guns surrendered by the Philippine Coast Guard used in the shooting incident off Bashi Strait near Batanes which resulted in the death of a Taiwanese fisherman. Ballistic tests will be conducted on the guns as part of an ongoing investigation.]

MANILA , MAY 20, 2013 (MALAYA) Written by JAY CHUA - CHAIRMAN Amadeo Perez of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office and the top representative of the Philippines to Taiwan yesterday said Taiwan’s officials have sent additional demands to President Aquino.

Perez, who arrived yesterday, complained of the undiplomatic way they were treated by people in the Chinese territory.

Perez arrived in Manila with MECO Managing Director Antonio Basilio and Director Manuel Dimaculangan via a China Airlines flight from Taipei at 4:30 p.m.


[PEREZ AND BASILIO: WE WERE HASSLED]

Perez and Dimaculangan left Manila last Wednesday to deliver President Aquino’s apology for the “unintended death” of Taiwanese fisherman Hung Shi-Chen after members of the Philippine Coast Guard fired warning shots at his boat which allegedly had tried to ram the Coast Guard ship.

Perez refused to reveal Taiwan’s new requests which they would like Philippine officials to follow to help ease tension between the two countries. He said Malacañang’s communications officials will decide whether to release the letter to the media.

Perez also described the reception given to them in Taiwan as “appalling.”

He said their hotel reservation was not honored and that they were told there were no more rooms, so they had to go to a less expensive hotel.

The following day, he said, they were told to leave the hotel because some 300 members of the Taiwanese media had been trying to enter and were causing inconvenience to other hotel guests.

Asked whether they felt that they were being undiplomatically treated, Perez shrugged his shoulders: “Well, hayaan mo na. Hayaan na natin. We take it with a grain of salt, kailangan matibay ang sikmura mo.”

Basilio said they were asked to return to Manila to help solve the problem. He said the Philippines is waiting for the tension to subside, and that both sides are trying to convey the message that the shooting was an isolated incident.

He said they conveyed the Philippines’ apology to Hung’s family. “We will start with the apologies, we’re willing to follow their other demands,” he added.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Perez met with Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director General Benjamin Ho on Wednesday night and reiterated the Philippines’ regrets and apology over the May 9 incident at the Balintang channel.

Lacierda said Perez was not snubbed. Taiwanese media had reported that Taiwanese Foreign Minister David Lin had refused to meet with Perez, who had been designated as President Aquino’s personal representative.

He said the Philippines did its part as an upright and respectable member of the international community and had even “gone the extra mile.”

Perez said he conveyed Aquino’s and the Filipino people’s “deep regret and apology over the unfortunate and unintended loss of life in the course of a fisheries law enforcement operation on 09 May 2013 by a Philippine Coast Guard/Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources maritime patrol in waters in the northern Philippines.”

He said he also conveyed the country’s readiness to give financial assistance to the family of Hung, as a token of solidarity and as an expression of sympathy by the Filipino people for his untimely demise.

He said he told Taiwanese officials that President Aquino had directed the National Bureau of Investigation to investigate the incident.

NO JOINT PROBE

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima ruled out a joint investigation by the Philippines and Taiwan. She said the Philippines is a sovereign country and that “we have our own process” to follow.

De Lima said members of the Philippine Coast Guard and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources who were manning the vessel that fired on Hung’s ship have submitted firearms to the NBI for ballistic examination. The NBI has already obtained a list of the Coast Guard personnel involved in the incident.

De Lima said Taiwan cannot just send its investigators to the Philippines to conduct an investigation because they have to make appropriate requests through MECO.

She also said the NBI has been coordinating with MECO to conduct interviews as well as an ocular investigation of the Taiwanese fishing vessel.

Lacierda said what the Philippines and Taiwan share is mutual legal assistance which follows certain protocols.

However, he maintained that based on the report of the Philippine Coast Guard, the shooting occurred within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone contrary to claims of the Taiwanese that they were fishing in international waters.

“Let me emphasize, in the course of a fisheries law enforcement operations within our waters…it happened 48 nautical miles east of Balintang Channel, I think,” he said.

DRILLS

Reports said Taiwan’s military pushed through with its exercises in waters between Taiwan and the Philippines, close to the spot where Hung was shot, but a Philippine security official said they have not monitored a naval exercise off northern Luzon.

Two Lafayette frigates, one Kidd-class destroyer, two missile boats and assorted Mirage and locally produced jet fighters reportedly took part in the drill.

“They may have conducted it within their territory which is very far from our territory to monitor… We do not see a problem if they did it within their territory,” said the Philippine official, who requested anonymity.

If the Taiwanese ships enter the country’s territorial waters, the official said the Philippine military will just monitor them and refer the incident to higher leadership for the filing of a protest.

“We will not accost them because of the sensitive situation. The relationship between the Philippines and Taiwan is currently volatile,” he said.

BINAY APPEALS

Vice President Jejomar Binay asked the Taiwanese government to lift its hiring freeze on Filipino workers and spare them from the conflict. He also expressed concern over reports of harassment and discrimination against Filipinos in Taiwan.

“They (Filipino workers) are there to earn an honest living for their families and work harmoniously with the Taiwanese people,” Binay said.

“I am concerned about the plight of our overseas Filipino workers in Taiwan, especially in light of reports that they suffer harassment and discrimination from Taiwanese nationals. Let us pray for their safety and well-being,” he added.

He also said the labor department has given assurance that government has measures to mitigate the impact of the Taiwan’s freeze-hiring policy.

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz earlier said the Philippines is considering South Korea and Middle East countries as alternative destinations.

Lacierda also said the red travel warning issued by Taiwan against the Philippines would hurt both countries because travel from each end will be affected.

“Their airlines will be affected. So does it help both countries when you do a travel ban?” he asked.

He said the Philippines has contingency measures in place, but he declined to elaborate. – With Victor Reyes, Jocelyn Montemayor, and JP Lopez

FROM MANILA STANDARD

Taipei rejects apology By Joyce Pangco Panares | Posted on May. 16, 2013 at 12:01am | 2,153 views

Aquino emissary snubbed, more sanctions imposed


[Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou AFP FILE PHOTO]

Taiwan on Wednesday rejected an apology from President Benigno Aquino III for the shooting death last week of a Taiwanese fisherman, refusing to meet his personal envoy in Taipei and announcing new sanctions against Manila.

Taiwan’s Central News Agency said Foreign Minister David Lin refused to receive Mr. Aquino’s envoy, Manila Economic and Cultural Office Chairman Amadeo Perez Jr., Wednesday night because he was “not sufficiently authorized.”

As a new deadline for an apology lapsed, Premier Jiang Yi-huah announced that Taipei was imposing a red alert on travel to the Philippines, removing the country from its visa-waiver program, and suspending exchanges and cooperation in several domains, including fishing, science and technology, and aviation negotiations.

High-level meetings between officials of both countries would also stop, Jiang said.

The new sanctions also included a round of joint Navy, Coast Guard Administration and Air Force maneuvers scheduled for Thursday.

“The statements by the Philippines changed back and forth from start to finish and lacked sincerity,” Jiang said Wednesday evening.

He added that the government had set up a special task force to supervise the implementation of the sanctions, but also called on citizens not to take their anger over the incident out on innocent Filipino residents in the country.

The new measures came in addition to the immediate suspension of the processing of applications by Filipinos to work in Taiwan, the recall of representative Raymond Wang from Manila and the demand for Manila’s representative in Taipei Antonio Basilio to return to the Philippines.

The three sanctions were announced in the morning after President Ma Ying-jeou was reportedly furious about the lack of progress made during a meeting between Lin and Basilio Tuesday evening.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Palace announced that President Aquino was sending Perez with his apologies over last week’s shooting death.

Mr. Aquino’s apology came less than a day after Taiwan rejected an expression of regret by the Philippines envoy to the island, Basilio, over the incident. Taiwan announced it was instituting a hiring freeze on Philippine workers, recalling its envoy to Manila and discouraging travel to the Southeast Asian nation.

Hours later, Philippine presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Aquino was sending his personal representative to Taipei with a letter expressing his “deep regret and apology” as the President of the Republic of the Philippines and the Filipino people.

Perez would convey the President and the Filipino people’s “deep regret and apology to the family of Mr. Hung Shih-chen as well as to the people of Taiwan over the unfortunate and unintended loss of life, Lacierda said in a press briefing Wednesday afternoon, his second for the day on the topic.

Towards noon, Lacierda told the press the Palace would not be responding to media queries over the incident “with the objective of preventing further escalation while deliberations are ongoing.”

At 3:30 p.m Lacierda announced the President’s letter of apology.

The President’s apology Wednesday was in stark contrast to the Palace’s initial refusal to apologize over the weekend, and its insistence that the Taiwanese fishing vessel had tried to ram a Coast Guard vessel in Philippine waters in an “aggressive act.”

But on Wednesday, Lacierda said the latest apology was the result of deliberations conducted by the President and various government officials.

“We understand the grief and hurt of the family and of the people of Taiwan over this unfortunate loss and we empathize with them,” Lacierda added.

On Saturday, Basilio went to Hung’s hometown to personally apologize on behalf of the Filipino people to family of the deceased.

Taiwan’s Central News Agency reported that Basilio told Hung’s family that the incident “resulted from a misunderstanding.”

Deputy presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte, who had earlier talked tough, also apologized for Hung’s death, and assured the Taiwanese people that the investigation into the incident “will be conducted in an impartial, transparent and expeditious manner.”

On Monday, Taipei issued a 72-hour ultimatum for the Philippines to issue a formal and official apology as well as to compensate Hung’s family.

The President responded by calling for “calm” and sobriety, adding that the “process” by which the Coast Guard apprehended the Taiwanese fishing vessels will be reviewed.

On Tuesday, Taiwan suspended the processing of visa applications for Filipino workers bound for Taipei.

Hours before the Mr. Aquino’s apology was announced, Taiwanese President Ma Ying-Jeou pulled out Raymond Wang, the resident representative of the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office to Manila.

Lacierda said Mr. Aquino has also ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to investigate the maritime incident that involved personnel of the Coast Guard and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

“Upon orders from the President, the National Bureau of Investigation has already started the investigation and is committed to a thorough, exhaustive, impartial and expeditious investigation of the incident,” Lacierda said.

“The NBI has given this case the highest priority,” he added.

Lacierda, however, could not give a categorical answer yet on whether the government will compensate Hung’s family.

Aside from a formal apology, Taiwan has demanded that Hung’s family be compensated, the perpetrator be apprehended, and fishing talks between the two countries be scheduled soon.

Lacierda said Filipino citizens have already given private donations to Hung’s family.

Perez was also expected to meet with Hung’s family today (Thursday), Lacierda said.

“As far as the Philippine government is concerned, our statement has been very emphatic with respect to our deep regret over the incident and this also an apology to the family of Mr. Hung Shih-Chen,” he said.

Lacierda also expressed hope that Taiwan would “revisit” its decision to freeze the processing of work permit applications of overseas Filipino workers.

“But, nonetheless, the Philippine government is preparing for the contingencies,” he said.

About 80,000 overseas Filipino workers live and work in Taiwan, mostly as factory workers or caregivers.

The Labor and Employment Department on Wednesday said it is looking at South Korea and Middle Eastern countries to take up the slack if Filipino workers are turned away by Taiwan.

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said Taiwan had stopped issuing working visas to Filipinos, but this should not affect Filipinos already working there.

Like many countries, the Philippines sticks to a One-China policy, but retains unofficial diplomatic relations with Taiwan through economic and cultural cooperation offices.

Earlier, Premier Jiang Yi-huah said Taiwan was displeased with an apology delivered by the Philippine representative office in Taipei, saying its phrasing reflected a desire by the Philippines government to distance itself from the affair.

Jiang also professed unhappiness with the source of compensation money the family of the fisherman will receive— the Filipino people rather than the Philippines government itself.

“The shooting was conducted by one of its civil servants, and its government could not evade the responsibility,” Jiang said, adding that Taiwan wants to be informed about whether the guilty party or parties will be charged, jailed or dismissed.

China has tried to make common cause with Taiwan on the fisherman’s death, part of its efforts to emphasize its claims of sovereignty over the island of 23 million people. Taiwan has so far resisted those attempts. The two split amid civil war in 1949.

On Wednesday the spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council in Beijing repeated the mainland’s condemnation of the Philippines’ handling of the incident. With Vito Barcelo, Eric Apolonia, AP


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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