PCG allows Taiwanese team to question crew
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said on Tuesday, May 28 that it will allow Taiwanese investigators to interview their personnel who were reportedly involved in the shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman.
"Walang tinatago ang coast guard (The Coast Guard is not hiding anything)," Commodore Eduardo Gongona told reporters after the Taiwanese team finished its inspection of the Maritime Commercial Service 3001 (MCS-3001).
MCS-3001, which belongs to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources but is manned by the PCG, was the vessel that tried to stop the Taiwanese boat Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28 from further entering Manila's exclusive economic zone on May 9.
The Taiwanese boat, which the PCG said was seen in Balintang island in northern Philippines, reportedly did not heed the order of the PCG and allegedly rammed the ship.
The PCG crew then fired at the Taiwanese boat, killing 65-year-old Hung Shih-Chen.
The shooting has sparked violence against Filipino workers. Taiwan also issued sanctions against Manila including a ban on hiring Filipino workers.
Gongona's statement came as the National Bureau of Investigation said they allowed the Taiwanese investigators on May 29 to watch for a second time the video of the encounter between the PCG and the Taiwanese fishermen.
The Taiwanese team first watched the video on May 28, but NBI deputy director Virgilio Mendez said they were not allowed to ask questions about the incident.
Mendez said the team will watch the video again along with the officials of the BFAR and the PCG. Taiwanese investigators can then ask crew members clarificatory questions.
Mendez stressed though that the questioning would be done before the lawyers of the PCG crew. "These people (PCG crew), they have rights," he said. "They cannot be compelled to say anything."
Meanwhile, the Taiwanese investigators saw the part of the Philippine vessel which was allegedly rammed by the Taiwanese boat.
Gongona said they took pictures and also took measurements of the armory inside the ship. All the guns - 8 M-16 rifles, 6 M-14 rifles and a machine gun - have already been turned over to the NBI, however.
PCG spokesman Commander Armando Balilio said they also tested the siren to see if it's functioning. "They also asked what material the ship is made of and it's fiber glass," he said.
The inspection lasted for 1 and 1/2 hours.
Prior to this, the Taiwanese investigators on May 27 completed its ballistics examination.
In Taiwan, GMA News to Go reported that the NBI team of investigators also went to Kaohsiung District on May 28 to inspect the fishing vessel boat and to talk to Hung's relatives.
They were not allowed to conduct a re-autopsy of the fisherman's body, however.
The NBI said the investigators, who flew to Taiwan for its parallel probe of Hung's death, are expected back in Manila on May 29 in the afternoon at the earliest. - Rappler.com
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