Taiwan demands Filipino apology for fisherman's death
Taipei said on Sunday it is "determined" to protect its fishermen by beefing up patrols in waters near the Philippines amid widespread public outrage over the fatal shooting of a fisherman from Taiwan by Filipino coast guard officers.
Four coast guard and naval vessels set sail for the area where the 65-year-old fisherman was killed on Thursday morning, according to a statement from authorities in Taiwan, following an exercise held by the island's coast guard on Saturday.
The move also came shortly after Taiwan's leader Ma Ying-jeou pledged that if Manila had not responded to Taipei's demands regarding the shooting within 72 hours, Taiwan would retaliate.
According to a statement released on Saturday, Ma demanded that the Philippines apologize, give a true account of the event, punish those responsible, compensate the fisherman's family and for the damage to the boat and start negotiations with Taiwan on a fishery agreement as soon as possible.
Manila also expressed its sympathies over the "unfortunate situation".
"Mr Antonio Basilio, Resident Representative of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office in Taiwan, has visited the family of the victim and extended condolences and offered his apologies," Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said.
Valte said an inquiry into the matter has already started, adding that the investigation will be "impartial and transparent".
She also said the commander and crew of the Philippine vessel in question have already been relieved of their duties.
"The Philippine Coast Guard, together with other agencies, assures everyone that this investigation will be conducted in an impartial, transparent and expeditious manner. Moving forward, relevant agencies will look into ways to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future," she said.
A response from Manila will come after the ongoing investigation is completed, Taiwan's Central News Agency quoted Valte as saying.
Observers said the Philippines has violated international law and called for strengthened and coordinated law enforcement from Beijing and Taipei to protect their fishermen's legitimate rights.