• De Lima mum on charges against Coast Guard personnel

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    Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has confirmed that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has recommended the filing of charges against Philippine Coast Guard men who shot and killed a Taiwanese fisherman in the seas of Northern Luzon last month.

    But she’s not telling exactly what those charges are, saying it’s up to President Benigno Aquino 3rd to make the revelation.

    In a teleconference on Thursday with reporters from Madrid, Spain, where she is attending a conference on the death penalty, De Lima said that the NBI’s recommendation to charge the 17 Coast Guardsmen clearly indicates that the incident happened in Philippine waters.

    “Yes, [criminal jurisdiction was]part of the discussions then yes… ’yun first part of the report,” she said.

    Depending on the gravity of their offense, the Coast Guardsmen could be charged either with homicide or murder.

    De Lima also said the Coast Guard personnel committed a security lapse and violated the Rules of Engagement in dealing with the group of suspected Taiwanese poachers in Balintang Channel on May 9.

    The Coast Guardsmen fired on one of the suspected poachers’ boats, killing Hung Shih-chen.

    De Lima said the report on the investigation is with the President and refused to reveal further details.

    “But what exactly are the charges I did not and cannot disclose yet pending the President’s clearance,” she said.

    The NBI and Taiwanese probers conducted separate investigations on the shooting two weeks ago. The incident has strained diplomatic relations between Manila and Taipei.

    JOMAR CANLAS

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