Shooting at sea: Coast Guard kills Taiwanese fisherman

Posted at 05/10/2013 12:07 PM | Updated as of 05/10/2013 5:17 PM

MANILA - The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) confirmed Friday that a Taiwanese fisherman was killed after the PCG shot at a fishing trawler that tried to ram their boat near Batanes. 

The PCG identified the fatality as Hung Shih-Cheng, 65, one of 4 crew members of the Taiwanese fishing vessel "Guang Ta Hsin 28." 

Officials said the BFAR MCS 3001 vessel first spotted 4 Taiwanese vessels 164 nautical miles off the southernmost tip of Balintang Channel in Batanes. One of the trawlers tried evasive maneuvers and was about to ram the BFAR boat, causing them to fire at the foreign vessel. 

Three crew members on board the Guang Ta Hsin 28 were unharmed.

"They fired at the machinery to disable it... if somebody died, they deserve our sympathy but not an apology," PCG spokesman Commander Armand Balilo told reporters.

PCG Commandant Admiral Rodolfo Isorena has ordered the relief of 11 PCG personnel onboard the vessel during the shooting incident. 

Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Director Asis Perez said 2 BFAR personnel on board the vessel were also sacked.

Perez said the Taiwanese vessels were already in Philippine territorial waters when they were spotted by the Coast Guard. 

Isorena said the PCG fired warning shots at the much larger fishing trawler when it tried to ram their vessel. The Coast Guard then shot at the trawler's engine, causing it to stop. 

He said the PCG withdrew its vessel after another ship arrived in the area. 

Taiwan's foreign ministry earlier said that a Taiwanese fishing vessel carrying three Taiwanese and one Indonesian crewman was fired upon early Thursday by a "Philippine government boat".

The incident, some 164 nautical miles off the southernmost tip of Taiwan, left one of the Taiwan crewmen dead.

The ministry did not specify what type of government boat allegedly fired upon the vessel.

The Philippines and Taiwan, along with Brunei, China and Malaysia, have conflicting claims to parts of the South China Sea.

China and Taiwan have been ruled separately since the end of a civil war in 1949, although Beijing claims the island. The Philippines has no diplomatic ties with Taiwan but maintains economic and cultural links. With a report from Noel Alamar, radio dzMM; and Agence France-Presse