Taiwan warships dispatched to disputed waters near Batanes Group of Islands

Taiwan dispatched warships in disputed waters near Batanes Group of Islands 


On Sunday ABS-CBN reported that Taiwan has dispatched four coastguard ships and a Lafayette-class naval frigate (warship) to beef up patrols in waters near the Batanes areas following public outrage over the shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman by Filipino coastguards. The move came shortly after authorities issued a strongly-worded statement late Saturday night demanding Manila apologize to Taiwan and compensate the family of the dead man.

"The government is determined to protect our fishermen," said cabinet spokeswoman Cheng Li-wen.

Taiwan also demanded the Philippine authorities to bring to justice the coastguards responsible and start negotiating with Taipei on a proposed fishery agreement.

taiwan-frigate-warships-in-batanes_m.jpg, Jan 2022

"If the Filipino government fails to respond in a positive manner within 72 hours, the hiring of Philippine workers will be frozen," presidential office spokeswoman Lee Chia-fei warned.

Hung Shih-cheng, the skipper of the 15-tonne "Kuang Ta Hsin No 28", was killed during the incident, which also left the boat riddled with more than 50 bullet holes.

"This is nothing but a slaughter," prosecutor Liu Chia-kai told reporters after examining the ship.

Taiwan's government has come under pressure from the opposition and the media to take action, with the Philippines refusing to apologize and saying the coastguard was tackling illegal fishing.

Philippine coastguard spokesman Commander Armand Balilo said Friday the incident took place in Philippine waters and the crew had been carrying out their duties to stop illegal fishing.

"If somebody died, they deserve our sympathy but not an apology," Balilo told reporters.

The victim's son, who was with his father and two other sailors on the boat when the shooting took place, has insisted they did not cross into Philippine waters.

In Manila, Abigail Valte, a spokeswoman for Philippine President Benigno Aquino, told a government radio station Saturday that authorities had launched a "transparent and impartial investigation" into the incident. The coastguard crew involved in the incident had been temporarily suspended to ensure a fair probe.

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