Family of slain Taiwanese files murder raps

MANILA Economic and Cultural Office chairman Amadeo Perez Jr. yesterday said the filing of murder charges by the daughter of the 65-year-old Taiwanese fisherman who was slain in an encounter with Philippine Coast Guard personnel last May 9 at the Balintang Channel would complicate the issue that has strained relations between Manila and Taipei.

Perez said Hung Tzu Chien filed the suit in Taiwan Wednesday while the 17 PCG and three Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) personnel are in the Philippines.

But he said MECO could not do anything to stop Hung even if the probe has yet to be completed since it is her family’s right.

He said the charges would have no effect on the results of the investigation.

Hung filed the charges in Pingtung county Wednesday while Philippine and Taiwanese authorities have yet to complete the parallel probe on the incident.

Perez said he does not know whether the evidence to be used by the court in the murder charges would come from the Taiwanese probers or the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

The eight-man NBI team headed by Foreign Liaison Division Head Chief Daniel Deganzo is set to return to the country today after completing its investigation, according to MECO.

The NBI team inspected the Guang Ta Hsin 28, including the vessel’s Global Positioning System, and talked to the slain fisherman’s companion though their request for a re-autopsy of his body was rejected by his family.

The NBI agents were assisted in their investigation by the Taiwanese Foreign and Justice ministries.

The Taiwanese probers are also set to complete their investigation today after interviewing the PCG and BFAR personnel on board the maritime control and surveillance ship MCS-3001 that figured in the encounter.

The team has inspected the firearms—8 M16 rifles, 6M14 rifles and a 50 caliber machine gun—used by the Coast Guard personnel as well as the MCS-3001. They were also allowed to view the video footage taken by the PCG of the incident.

Taiwanese authorities contended that the PCG personnel murdered their compatriot citing the more than 40 bullet holes in the fishing vessel, particularly in its cockpit where Hung Shih-cheng and his companions hid.

The PCG admitted firing on the fishing vessel but insisted in was done in self-defense as the latter repeatedly tried to ram them.