May 252013
Malacañang on Saturday said it has not received any report that Philippine Coast Guard personnel could be held liable in an encounter in disputed waters that killed a Taiwanese fisherman last May 9.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte reiterated the government’s call to the public to wait for the final result of the probe, after a newspaper reported on the supposed liability of the Coast Guard.

“Wala pang isinusumite, mabuti hintayin natin ang final na result bago pag-usapan ang sinasabing detalye,” Valte said on government-run dzRB radio.

A 65-year-old Taiwanese fisherman was killed in the incident, prompting Taiwan to freeze the hiring of Filipino workers and discourage its residents from traveling to the Philippines.

On Saturday, a report on The Philippine Star quoted a source that said initial findings may indicate criminal negligence by the Philippine Coast Guard personnel involved.

It said its source indicated Coast Guard personnel in the incident may face criminal and administrative charges for possible violations of rules of engagement, excessive use of force, and neglect of duty.

But the Coast Guard initially said its men fired on the Taiwanese boat as it was about to ram the Philippine vessel.

Meanwhile, Valte reiterated President Benigno Aquino’s  stance that a fisheries agreement with Taiwan may have to wait until after the present row is settled.

A fisheries agreement had been one of Taiwan’s demands following the May 9 incident.

“I think the president has spoken very clearly about the proposed fisheries agreement, he had actually mentioned it would be better to concentrate on the investigation at hand and discuss that proposal at some future time rather than the present,” Valte said. — LBG, GMA News

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