MANILA - The Philippines' justice department has filed criminal charges against eight Filipino coast guard personnel in connection with the death of a Taiwanese fisherman in May last year in waters where Manila and Taipei have overlapping claims, a Philippine prosecutor said Thursday.
According to Prosecutor General Claro Arellano, the homicide case against the eight and an obstruction of justice case against two of them were filed March 27 at trial courts in the northern Philippines provinces Batanes and Cagayan Valley.
The coast guard personnel were found by government prosecutors to have "all acted in unison with the common purpose of firing at the (Taiwanese fishing boat) Guang Da Xing No. 28 to force it to submit to (the Philippine fisheries' patrol boat) MCS-3001's inspection or else" during an encounter May 9, 2013 at what the Philippines calls as Balintang Channel.
What the respondents claim as a law enforcement activity resulted in the death of Taiwanese fisherman Hong Shi Cheng, triggering a diplomatic row between the Philippines and Taiwan, and the latter imposing sanctions on the former.
The obstruction of justice case stemmed from the two respondents' submission of a falsified report about the incident.
An agreement has since been arrived at by Manila and Taipei on law enforcement in the disputed waters, and talks are underway for the conclusion of a fishery cooperation agreement.