MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Philippine Coast Guard admitted on Friday, May 10, that its personnel shot at a Taiwanese fishing boat in an incident that authorities in Taipei said left a crewman dead.
"They fired at the machinery to disable it... if somebody died, they deserve our sympathy but not an apology," coastguard spokesman Commander Armand Balilo told reporters.
Balilo said the incident took place in Philippine waters and that the personnel had been carrying out their duties to stop illegal fishing.
Earlier, the Philippine Navy denied reports that its personnel shot dead a fisherman off Taiwan.
Chinese media Xinhua reported that a Taiwanese fisherman was shot dead on Thursday morning, May 9, off Erluanbi, the southern part of Taiwan.
The shooting occurred around 10 am in a sea area some 180 nautical miles southeast of Erluanbi, the southernmost tip of the island of Taiwan, said Tsay Tzu-yaw, deputy head of Taiwan's fishery administration reported.
According to local media reports, after killing the fisherman, the Filipino military ship continued to chase and fire in bursts at the Taiwanese vessel.
The Taiwanese vessel escaped danger only after fleeing for more than an hour, with equipment onboard severely damaged.
Navy spokesman on the West Philippine Sea Colonel Edgard Arevalo said on Friday, May 10 that a check with the Naval Forces of Northern Luzon showed that there were no Philippine Navy vessels in the said area during the time of the incident.
Arevalo said that according to Commodore Nodolfo Tejada, Naval Forces Northern Luzon commander, all Navy vessels are either in port or in Subic or Sual, Pangasinan.
"The Philippine Navy denies any involvement in, much as we were saddened by, the news about an incident where a Taiwanese fisherman was reportedly shot and the wound led to his death," Arevalo said.
The Philippines and Taiwan, along with Brunei, China and Malaysia, have conflicting claims to parts of the South China Sea.– Rappler.com, with reports from Agence France-Presse