Counting President Benigno Cojuangco Aquino’s apology to the people and the supertyphoon Yolanda’s physically and emotionally devastated victims, the Department of Justice’s National Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday accomplished a second famous “better-late-than never” deed.
The release of the long-awaited public report on the investigation on the killing by Philippine Coast Guard men of a Taiwanese fisherman last year and the decision of the DOJ-NBI to indict the eight PCG men involved in that crime have caused the Philippine public to heave a sigh of relief.
It yesterday made the government of Taiwan commend the Philippine government.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) issued a press statement saying it “applauds the Philippine judiciary for its fair ruling, as well as its determination to punish the perpetrators according to the facts and evidence of the crime.”
Taiwan’s China Post, in a story by Joseph Yeh titled “Philippines praised for charging coastguard men,” reported in its March 19 issue that at a press conference on Tuesday, Foreign Minister David Lin said “the R.O.C. Government expressed approval of the decision made by the Philippine Department of Justice (DOJ).”
Joseph Yeh’s report quoted Lin saying, “Justice has been dealt.”
The report further says: “With the latest move, the minister noted that the Philippines authorities have met all four demands previously made by the Taiwan government; namely, a formal apology, punishment of those responsible for the fatal shooting, compensation for the Hung family and the holding of bilateral fishery talks to prevent the occurrence of similar incidents.
“Lin added that both sides will continue to engage in bilateral fishery talks in an effort to address fishing disputes in their overlapping waters in the future.
“Bilateral relations will continue to move closer despite the incident, he added.
“According to Taiwan’s Ministry of Justice, the eight Philippine suspects charged with homicide are facing a maximum 21-year prison term under Philippine law.
The DOJ’s 79-page resolution said the panel handling the complaint ruled that there was a conspiracy among the eight PCG men to deliberately fire at the Taiwan fishing vessel Guang Da Xing No. 28.
The panel also did not accept the coastguardmen’s claim of self-defense. The DOJ investigators found no evidence to prove that the Taiwanese vessel posed an imminent or grave danger to the PCG men.
Apart from homicide, separate charges of obstruction of justice were also filed against two of the eight PCG men for fabricating and submitting a false monthly gunner report dated May 11, 2013.
The Taiwan government made four demands to the Philippines—to issue a public apology; to provide compensation to the family of the victim; to hold an expeditious investigation followed by prosecution of the perpetrators; and the speedy arrangement of negotiations on fishery matters.
President Aquino on Aug. 8, 2013, sent Amadeo Perez Jr., chairman of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO), to Taiwan to formally apologize to the Taiwanese government and the family of the victim.
In that visit, Perez managed to reach an agreement with the family of the victim on the compensation.
Negotiations are still going on to reach a Philippine-Taiwan agreement on law enforcement cooperation in fishery matters.
The Philippines and Taiwan have been on the friendliest of terms, even after our government dropped its recognition of the Taiwan-based Republic of China (ROC) and opened diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
Thousands of our OFWs happily work in Taiwan. Taiwan has sizeable investments in the Philippines.
We must not allow bad incidents like the CPG men’s mindless firing on Taiwanese fishermen harm Philippine-Taiwan friendship and cooperation.