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.
Despite a hiring freeze imposed by Taipei following the incident, a local manpower agency continues to hire Filipino factory workers for deployment to Taiwan.
Kan-ya International Services Corp. (KISC) offered jobs in Taiwan factories for Filipino men during the Department of Labor and Employment’s Independence Day job fair at the Rizal Park.
Asked if she was aware of the tensions, Marivic Montales, assistant documentation officer of KISC, said they “have not received any directive to stop hiring.”
“Actually, the filing of visa is the only thing that was put on hold. But the deployment continues,” Montales said.
“There are still some job orders coming,” she added.
Montales emphasized that they froze visa applications and processing in mid-May, but continued hiring workers at the beginning of June.
“But now, it’s back to normal. There are some documents added to the requirements like the unified ID,” she said.
According to her, there are Chinese employers who trust Filipino workers.
Job applicant Eugene Ocampo said he applied for a job on May 8 and was asked to wait several days before he flies to Taiwan.
With A Report From Kristyn Nika Lazo