PCG men in Balintang shooting plead not guilty

MANILA, Philippines – Six of the 8 accused over the infamous Balintang shooting that killed a Taiwanese fisherman in 2013 pleaded not guilty of homicide on Tuesday, September 2.

This was after the Batanes Regional Trial Court junked their move to have their homicide charges dismissed. All accused are members of the Philippine Coast Guard.

"This is all right with us as we have many legal remedies and we will exercise all of them, as our clients are innocent and we will prove this," said lawyer Rodrigo Moreno, pro bono legal counsel for 7 of the accused.

One of his clients, Seaman 1st Class Edrando Quiapo Aguila, failed to show up in court Tuesday because of an untimely loss of a relative.

"The court was kind enough to excuse his absence," Moreno said.

Another accused, Commander Arnold Dela Cruz, already pleaded not guilty on July 7.

Dela Cruz severed ties with Moreno prior to his arraignment, at which point the 7 other accused already filed a petition for review with the justice department questioning their indictment. 

The petition effectively postponed the indictment of the 7 others.

The shooting along Balintang Channel in Batanes caused tension between the Philippines and Taiwan. The incident saw the death of Taiwanese national Hong Shih-Cheng.

Over 16,000 Filipinos working in Taiwan temporarily lost their jobs after Hong's death. (READ: Standing firm against Taiwan's strong-arm tactics)