Palace insists: No joint inquiry with Taiwan

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Despite Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou’s insistence, Malacanang on Sunday said the Philippines cannot agree to a joint probe over the killing of a Taiwanese fisherman in disputed waters.

Ma earlier called on the Philippines to “adopt a pragmatic attitude to unveil the truth behind the incident.”

Palace deputy spokesman Abigail Valte, however, said the Philippines has its own processes and justice system which the government follows.

“In our system, we have due process that we have to follow,” Valte said. “The conclusion can only follow from the evidence that is presented and not the other way around.”

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Valte said that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is already doing an inquiry.

“The investigation by the NBI is already underway and we’re sticking to that.” she added

Asked if President Benigno Aquino 3rd would consider personally reaching out to his Taiwanese counterpart to extend an apology and clarify the incident, Valte said, ” The President has already sent his personal representative at that point and the message was conveyed.”

Last week, a Taiwanese fisherman was killed after Philippine Coast Guard personnel fired at a Taiwanese boat in Philippine waters off the coast of Batanes.

The incident prompted Taiwan to freeze the hiring of Filipino workers and impose a travel alert discouraging travel to the Philippines.

Valte said there are no discussions on whether the Philippines will apply reciprocal sanctions on Taiwan.

“What sort of sanctions are you talking about? The same that they have given to us? There are no discussions on that,” she said.

The Taiwanese investigators who arrived in Manila last Thursday have returned to Taipei.

They claim that the Philippine Coast Guard used powerful ammunition and ignored international laws.

However, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima earlier said that, as a sovereign country, the Philippines will not allow anyone, much less foreigners, to interfere with the NBI probe.

De Lima said efforts are under way to send a team of NBI agents to Taiwan as part of the probe.

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