The Taiwanese government will only lift the sanctions it imposed on the Philippines if Manila responds positively to Taipei’s demands regarding the May 9 killing of a Taiwanese fisherman off Batanes.
In a report on Taiwan’s Focus News Channel, President Ma Ying-jeou stood firm on his position that the Philippines should offer a formal apology, compensate the victim’s family, bring to justice the perpetrators and enter into a fisheries agreement with Taipei.
These are “reasonable requests,” he said, that are consistent with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) and other relevant international laws.
Taiwan, however, is not a signatory of the 1982 convention since it is not considered a sovereign state. China considers Taiwan a renegade province.
“We are waiting for a response from the Philippines. If there is a positive response, we definitely will lift the sanctions,” Ma said in the report.
Taiwan on May 15 imposed several retaliatory measures against the Philippines, suspending the recruitment of Filipino workers, issuing a red travel alert for the Philippines and suspending high-level exchanges between the two countries.
Also frozen were bilateral economic exchanges, agricultural and fishery cooperation, technology research exchange and cooperation projects, aviation rights negotiations and visa-free treatment for Filipinos.
The shooting of a 65-year-old Hung Shih-cheng by the members of the Philippine Coast Guard happened at the overlapping exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of Manila and Taipei.
The Philippines and Taiwan both claim the resource-rich West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), which includes the narrow channel between Batanes island and southern Taiwan.
Other claimants are China, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei Darussalam.
The two sides have already finished their investigations on the incident, but they have yet to release the reports. They also recently started discussing a possible fisheries agreement.
BERNICE CAMILLE V. BAUZON