By Catherine S. Valente And Ritchie Horario Reporters
The tension between the Philippines and Taiwan has somewhat eased after both countries agreed to make “coordinated efforts” to look into the death of a Taiwanese fisherman, a Palace official said on Wednesday.
“So far, sa atin pong nakikita, medyo bumababa na po nang kaunti [So far, based on what we have observed, the tension has cooled down a bit],” Palace deputy spokesman Abigail Valte said in a conference.
This was also after the Taiwan appreciated President Aquino’s gratitude for their assurance to secure Filipinos there, according to Valte.
“I was able to speak to Chairman [Amadeo] Perez of MECO [Manila Economic and Cultural Office] this morning and Chairman Perez said that, I think, his counterparts in Taiwan were able to receive word of the President’s interview [on Tuesday]wherein the President expressed his thanks also to them for making sure that our citizens will be protected and that the attacks will not be repeated,” she said
“This was received well by the Taiwanese side and they said that they will ensure that no harm will come to our citizens there. So maganda naman pong balita ‘yon [So that is good news],” she added.
Authorities from the Philippines earlier agreed to have a parallel probe with Taiwan.
Under the agreement, the Taiwanese can look into the evidence gathered, including statements of Coast Guards who shot dead 65-year-old Hung Shih-chen and the ballistic report on firearms used.
The NBI, in turn, will fly to Taipei to examine the fishing vessel and to also interview the companions of the victim. The NBI will ask to re-autopsy the body.
On Tuesday, Taiwan released a satellite record of the route of the fishing boat fired on by Philippine coastguards, flatly rejecting Manila’s allegations that the boat intruded into Philippine waters.
However, Valte said “the report can be expected once the entire investigation is finished.”
“The investigation is very exhaustive and they’re looking at all factors that may be contributory that may have any particular impact on the incident itself,” she said
“I understand that they’ve already done substantial work but they do want to be able to inspect the fishing vessel in question,” she added
But even as the tension between the Philippines and Taiwan is waning, militant groups yesterday stormed the office of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Makati City.
The militants picketed outside the RCBC Bldg., which houses the TECO’s offices to call for an immediate resolution of the dispute brought by the fatal shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman.
The militants reminded Taiwanese officials that Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) are not their enemy. The picket ended peacefully as militants decided to disperse after they have aired their concerns.
Perez said Taiwanese authorities have tightened the security for OFWs.
“Since Sunday until today, there were no reports of harassment or violence against Filipinos recorded. Humuhupa na ang tension (has been waning),” he said.
He added that the government is prepared to pay NT$1 million (P1.38 million) to the family of the fisherman.