One newspaper [not The Times]reported that the probe on the shooting that led to the death of Taiwanese fisherman on Balintang Channel cannot proceed just yet because of additional conditions imposed by the Taiwanese government.
The Filipino Coast Guard had fired at Taiwanese fishing vessel in an attempt, it says, merely to disable it. The crew did so because, it further claims, the vessel was turning around to ram their ship down. The Taiwanese fishermen naturally denied it had done anything of the sort, even suggesting that the killing was premeditated and the crew fired at the fishing boat knowing it was unarmed. Moreover, they added, they were clearly within Taiwanese waters.
It has been reported that eight agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) were granted visa to proceed to Taiwan to interview the fishermen, including the captain, and examine the vessel. Obviously, the NBI has already interviewed the Filipino sailors and has made the preliminary conclusion, as DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima tells media that there were indications the shooting was unnecessary.
But the NBI agents, the report says, cannot leave for Taiwan because of the new conditions. What those conditions are, the report doesn’t say.
Mercifully, the story is inaccurate. The Times Malacanang reporter, Catherine S. Valente, has filed a story stating that Ms. de Lima has said that the departure of the NBI agents was delayed simply because there are some details that both Taiwan and the Philippines need to clear up first.
Which is just as well. One is growing weary of the continuing intransigence of Taiwan—and its belligerence.
In an earlier editorial, The Times suggests that if our Taiwanese friends fear any whitewash, they just don’t know that Filipinos love exposes. Any attempt to hide the truth would surely find its way to the media, and the nation’s reputation be damned.
The investigation must be allowed to proceed unimpeded. Maybe the Coast Guard violated the rules of engagement, but we don’t know that for sure until we’re done with the probe.
Another thing we must determine. Did the Taiwanese encroach upon our territorial seas? The fishermen said they were in their own waters when fired upon. But there are a hundred cases or so of Taiwanese—and Chinese—fishermen caught by Philippine authorities fishing within our borders. On that, there is no doubt. And the Taiwanese and the Chinese admitted to the crimes, as demonstrated by the fact that their respective embassies asked the Philippine government many times in the past to release these poachers. And we out of friendship acquiesce to the requests.
In any case, no Filipino vessel has been apprehended, ever, poaching in Taiwanese or Chinese waters.