Philippines' explanation utterly untenable

Updated: 2013-05-11 21:35


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MANILA - The explanation Philippine authorities have offered on Thursday's killing of a fisherman from China's Taiwan region is utterly untenable.

In a statement delivered a day after the incident, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) admitted that its officers were responsible for the shooting death of 65-year-old Hung Shih-Cheng.

However, the first yet belated official response not only failed to depict a true picture of what happened, but also appeared as an attempt to excuse the shooters' barbaric acts.

Firstly, the incident happened some 160 nautical miles southeast of the southernmost tip of the island of Taiwan.

The Philippines claimed that the location is in its "exclusive economic zone". But according to Taiwanese authorities, the site is in an overlapping area of the two sides' exclusive economic zones, and no bilateral fishing arrangement has been reached.

Moreover, it would be shocking to any reasonable mind that the 13-meter-long "Guang Ta Hsin 28" fishing boat had intended -- as the Philippines alleged -- to ram itself against the 34-meter-long, steel-made and well-equipped maritime surveillance ship.

And what the PCG termed as warning shots it was forced to fire left dozens of bullet holes on the unarmed Taiwanese fishing vessel and claimed the life of Hung.

Furthermore, Taiwanese authorities said that even when the attacked fishing vessel was fleeing at full speed, the Philippine ship chased it for about one hour.

Thursday's episode was not the first time the Philippine side had brutally treated fishermen and fishing boats from China's mainland and Taiwan.

Two Chinese fishing boat skippers were killed by Philippine maritime officers respectively in May 2000 and in January 2006. And Chinese fishing boats have also been frequently intercepted and detained by Philippine authorities.

On the disputes in the South China Sea, recent years have seen the Philippine government playing little tricks on the one hand while trumpeting its commitment to peaceful solutions on the other.

What its coast guard did Thursday, however, not only ran against the peaceful approach Manila has touted, but also violated the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

China's mainland and Taiwan have both condemned Thursday's killing and demanded the Philippines conduct a thorough investigation and handle the incident properly.

The Philippines should carry out a serious probe and adopt effective measures to prevent repetition of similar events, so as to safeguard China-Philippines relations as well as regional peace and security with genuine sincerity and concrete deeds.