Malacañang on Friday said that the country’s relations with Taiwan will return to normal soon after Taipei lifted the sanctions it imposed against Manila following the shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman by Philippine Coast Guard personnel in May.
In a phone interview, Palace deputy spokesperson Abigail Valte expressed confidence that “recent developments” would contribute to the quick resolution of the issue.
“Well, hopefully we did get word that they are lifting sanctions,” Valte said.
The Taiwanese government lifted the sanctions on Thursday after President Benigno Aquino 3rd sent a formal apology over the killing of Hong Shi-cheng off Batanes in May 9.
“Given that the Philippines has expressed its good will and apology both in writing and in deed, the ROC [Republic of China] government hereby pronounces that all sanctions imposed against the Philippines are lifted as of today,” Taiwan’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
Taipei had demanded that the Philippine government issue a formal apology for the incident, punish those responsible for the shooting, compensate the Hung family and start bilateral fishery talks to prevent similar incidents in the future.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has recommended the filing of homicide charges against eight Coast Guardsmen involved in the incident.
All the recommendations of the NBI, Valte said, are going to undergo preliminary investigation in the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Asked if the morale of the Coast Guard was considered in the NBI investigation, Valte said: “The NBI investigated the incident with complete impartiality, without regard to external pressure. The contents of the report will attest to that.”
Rules of engagement
Valte said the Palace expects the country’s Coast Guard to strictly follow rules of engagement to avoid a repeat of Balintang incident.
“We’re pretty confident that the Coast Guard will continue to be vigilant and will continue to guard our waters to the best of their abilities and that moving forward, they will take measures to ensure that similar incidents do not happen again,” she added.
The Taiwanese fishing boat, Guang Da Xing No. 28, reportedly entered Philippine waters in the Balintang channel that lies between the Batanes Island and southern Taiwan.
Manila Economic and Cultural Office Chairman Amadeo Perez Jr. visited Taipei on Thursday to personally “provide a full account of the efforts the Philippine government has made regarding the case.”