Death on the High
Seas: Ma issues ultimatum over fisherman’s death
72 HOURS: The government will freeze Filipino
workers’ applications and recall its envoy if Manila fails to respond to
Taiwan’s demand for a formal apology and arrest of the suspect in a fisherman’s
By Mo Yan-chih / Staff reporter
Coast guards free “hostages” from
a simulated hijacked vessel during a Coast Guard Administration drill in
Taichung Port yesterday aimed at demonstrating the coast guard’s ability to
protect the nation’s sovereignty, maintain security and enforce the law.
The administration of President Ma Ying-jeou
(馬英九) yesterday gave the Philippines 72 hours to arrest those responsible for
the death of a Taiwanese fisherman, issue a formal apology and compensate the
If Manila failed to respond to these demands within 72 hours, the government
will freeze Philippine worker applications, recall the Republic of China (ROC)
representative in Manila and ask the Philippine representative to return to
Manila to help in the investigation, Presidential Office spokesperson Lee
Chia-fei (李佳霏) told a news conference last night following a national security
meeting presided over by Ma.
The 72-hour deadline started from "12am on May 12," Lee said.
The meeting, attended by top officials including Minister of Foreign Affairs
David Lin (林永樂) and Minister of National Defense Kao Hua-chu (高華柱), lasted about
two hours from 7pm to 9pm in the Presidential Office.
The incident took place on Thursday, when a Philippine Coast Guard vessel opened
fire on the Pingtung-based fishing boat Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28 in waters 164
nautical miles (304km) southeast of Taiwan’s southernmost tip, killing
65-year-old Taiwanese fisherman Hung Shih-cheng (洪石成).
The boat was fishing in waters in which the exclusive economic zones of Taiwan
and the Philippines overlap.
“The Philippine government’s attitude is outrageous and unacceptable,” Ma said
earlier yesterday while inspecting a coastguard drill at Taichung Harbor.
He also instructed the Coast Guard Administration to dispatch ships to the
exclusive economic zone and increase patrols over territorial waters to protect
“The Philippines shot at an unarmed fishing boat. This violates international
safety regulations. Firing 40 to 50 shots at the boat is brutal and
cold-blooded,” the president said.
The Ma administration has come under pressure from the public and lawmakers
across party lines to take a tougher stand on the incident.
Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday also urged the Ma administration to
initiate action against Manila, such as suspending all exchanges with the
Philippines and banning the recruitment of Filipino workers.
He also proposed sending naval ships and extending their patrol scope beyond the
exclusive economic zone to better protect Taiwanese fishermen.
“Only by doing this can we better protect our fishermen’s rights and defend our
national dignity. We should take a hardline approach in handling this incident,”
he said at Taipei City Hall.
Hau added that the Taipei City Government would retract its invitation to the
Philippines to attend the Dragon Boat Festival next month.
“The Taipei City Government stands behind Taiwanese fishermen. Unless the
Philippine government brings the killers to justice and compensates [the
victim’s family], we will stop inviting the [Philippines’] dragon boat team to
this year’s festival,” he said.
Taipei will also suspend all exchanges with Manila and Quezon City — both sister
cities of Taipei — as well as the city government’s plan to donate two
ambulances to the Philippines.
The Philippines has sent dragon boat teams to compete in the city’s annual
dragon boat race for the past two years. Taipei City’s Department of Sports said
it would cancel this year’s invitation tomorrow.
New Taipei City (新北市) Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) also condemned the shooting and said
that the city would suspend exchanges with Manila until the Philippine
government offers an apology, compensate the victim’s family and apprehends the
A storm of indignation also broke out among Taiwanese netizens, with several
calling for a boycott on travel to the Philippines, or action to paralyze
Philippine government Web sites that are not related to medicine.
Additional reporting by Ho Yu-hua and staff writer