Taiwan insists on joint probe with PH
MANILA, Philippines – Despite initial refusal of the Philippine government, Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou insisted that Taiwan will continue negotiating with the Philippines to conduct a joint investigation over the killing of a Taiwanese fisherman in Philippine waters.
In a statement made on Saturday, May 18, Ma called for the Philippines and Taiwan “to adopt a pragmatic attitude to unveil the truth behind the incident.” Ma asked for the continuation of talks between the two nations stating that the incident was an opportunity for Taiwan and the Philippines to implement the mutual legal assistance agreement they signed earlier this year.
“President Ma believes that the incident requires both sides to cooperate with each other on the investigation pragmatically, and only by doing so can the truth be revealed,” Presidential Office spokesperson Lee Chia-fei said.
Lee added that Ma had asked the foreign and justice ministries to seek a consensus with Manila based on the "principle of reciprocity." She stressed that the negotiations had not failed and said the government’s investigation team would continue its efforts to find the truth when the Philippines is “ready.”
On Thursday, May 16, a Taiwanese investigative team consisting of prosecutors and officials from the justice and foreign ministries arrived in Manila to set up a joint investigation with the Philippines into the killing of Taiwanese fisherman on May 9. But the Taiwanese team returned to Taiwan on Saturday after failing to reach a consensus with the Philippine government.
During a news conference at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport on Saturday, Taipei Times reported that the Taiwanese delegation said they had made "some progress" on initiating a judicial investigation with the Philippine Department of Justice but further negotiations were needed.
Chen Wen-chi, Taiwan's head of the Ministry of Justice’s Department of International and Cross-Strait Legal Affairs said that the incident had occurred while the boat was in Taiwan’s exclusive economic zone and that it had not entered the Philippines’ territorial waters.
These findings contradicted the Philippines’ claims that the shots were fired in self-defense after the Taiwanese boat tried to ram it, Chen added.
On Friday, May 17, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said it would be “impossible” to conduct a joint investigation with Taiwan as the Philippines “is a sovereign country” with its own processes and justice system.
De Lima added that that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has been conducting its own investigation over the “unfortunate” incident and should not be subject to any interference.
The Philippine government, through the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO), has already conveyed its sincere apologies over the tragic incident but the Taiwanese government still sanctioned and ban the hiring of new workers from the Philippines.
MECO Chairman Amadeo Perez on Friday said that he already met the family of the slain fisherman and apologized in behalf of President Benigno Aquino III but the family still demanded for “a personal apology” from the President.
“They want the President to apologize himself to the Taiwanese government which would not be keeping in their protocol,” Perez said.
Perez however assured the family of the fisherman and the Taiwanese government that an investigation of the shooting has been given top priority by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) as ordered by the President Aquino and Justice Secretary Liela De Lima.
“If our people are guilty, they will be made to face the consequences of their act,” Perez said. – Rappler.com