China govt plans to lift sanctions against Manila

TAIPEI, Taiwan - The government announced yesterday plans to lift the 11 retaliatory measures levied on the Philippines government after the country promised compensation and a formal apology over a shooting incident.

It has been nearly three months since the fatal shooting of fisherman Hung Shih-cheng by Philippine coastguardsmen. Hung, 65, was killed after the Philippine coast guard opened fire on his fishing vessel in the Bashi Strait, between the Philippines and Southern Taiwan.

The Philippines government has decided to send Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) Chairman Amadeo R. Perez as a representative of Philippines President Benigno Aquino III to officially apologise to Hung's family and the people of Taiwan.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) expressed their support of the Philippine government's actions and their hope that the 11 sanctions can be lifted as soon as possible.

Perez reportedly is to bring more than NT$10 million(S$4.2 million) to the Hung household as compensation - a figure that is by far the largest compensation sum in Philippines history. A source has revealed that the funds are intended to compensate for the family's mental anguish, loss of income and maintenance costs for repairing the fishing boat, the Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28.

According to CNA, Perez will present the apology to the Hung family in Liuqiu, though comments on the compensation were kept brief. He said he hopes the controversy surrounding the shooting incident will come to an end as soon as possible and friendly ties between the Philippines and Taiwan can be successfully restored.

Justice Ministry Vies for Harsher Punishment

According to the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), 20-year sentences are often handed down for homicide in the Philippines - far more lenient than Taiwan's capital punishment system which can be imposed on the most heinous of crimes. The MOJ explicitly urged the Philippine government yesterday to levy a harsher punishment on the eight accused personnel.

The governments of both the Philippines and Taiwan yesterday announced the results of their the investigation reports over the shooting that divided relations between the two nations three months ago. The Philippines government stated that they would press homicide charges against the eight coastguardsmen who allegedly opened fire on the unarmed vessel. According to Philippine criminal law, the harshest punishment that can be imposed for homicide is less than 20 years of imprisonment.

The MOFA and MOJ later held a press conference, stating that the alleged actions of the Philippine coastguardsmen warrant that murder charges be brought against them.

The MOJ stated that according to the Philippine criminal code, convicted murderers can face sentences of less than 40 years and more than 20 years in prison. Nevertheless, the MOJ said that they will respect the Philippines judiciary system, urging them to judge based on the evidence presented.

MOJ Minister Tseng Yung-fu said that he can accept the results from the Philippine government's decisions, including the homicide charges. "Homicide charges in Philippines include killing someone through deliberate attempts. The strafing was done deliberately, so it should be considered homicide."

Ties between Taiwan and Philippines has grown tense since the killing of Hung on May 9 that enraged the people of Taiwan. Taiwan had initially demanded four requests on the Filipino government - official apology, compensation, punishment on the criminal and open bilateral fishery talks between both countries. The Cabinet then launched a string retaliatory measures on the Filipino government after they could not receive a satisfactory answer, including freezing the import of Filipino workers.