May 212013

TAIPEI — Taiwan on Tuesday released a satellite record of the route of a fishing boat fired on by Philippine coastguards, flatly rejecting Manila’s allegations that the boat intruded into Philippine waters.

The killing of crew member Hung Shih-cheng, 65, sparked outrage in Taiwan, which has announced a series of economic sanctions against the Philippines.

Taiwan’s Fisheries Agency said the voyage data recorder from the fishing boat showed it was not in Philippine waters when it came under fire on May 9.

“The satellite records indicated that the Guang Ta Hsin 28 had been fishing within Taiwan’s exclusive economic zone throughout,” the agency’s deputy chief Tsay Tzu-yaw told AFP.

The satellite record showed that the ship was positioned at 122 degrees and 55 minutes east and 19 degrees and 59 minutes north when it was attacked at 10:12 am. The economic zones claimed by each country overlap.

“Since the Philippine authorities repeatedly alleged that the fishing boat had intruded into their waters, then why not make public the video records they claim they have taken from the coastguard boat?” Tsay said.

The Philippines said Monday it would make “coordinated efforts” with Taiwan to look into the incident.

Its coastguards claimed that the fishing boat intruded into Philippine waters and tried to ram their vessel, forcing them to open fire.

Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou has termed the killing “cold-blooded murder” based on an initial inquiry by Taiwan, which showed that the boat had more than 50 bullet holes and showed no signs of ramming.

The incident has sharply raised tensions between Taipei and Manila, sparking concern from Washington.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Monday a National Bureau of Investigation team would fly to Taiwan to examine the fishing boat and interview survivors.

De Lima said the Taiwanese investigators would be given access to their evidence, including statements from the coastguard.

President Benigno Aquino has personally apologized for the incident but Taiwan has rejected his apology and announced sanctions.

These include a ban on the hiring of new Philippine workers, recalling its envoy and staging a naval drill in waters off the northern Philippines.

Taipei has repeatedly pressed Manila to issue a formal government apology, to compensate the fisherman’s family and to apprehend the killer.

Philippine officials say the issue of a formal apology is complicated by the fact that Manila officially recognizes Beijing over Taipei.

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