MANILA - Taiwan welcomed Wednesday the homicide conviction of 8 Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) personnel over the killing of a Taiwanese fisherman off northern Batanes in May 2013, which had sparked tensions between Taipei and Manila.
"Today, the long-awaited justice in this shooting incident was served, but it was a hard and a bitter experience for both countries. We now have to move on from this tragic incident, and determine how to further enhance the bilateral relationship between our two countries," the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines said in a statement Wednesday.
"May the verdict in this case serve not only as a symbol of justice, but also a testament to the solid relationship and deep mutual trust between Taiwan and the Philippines."
A Manila court sentenced the accused to imprisonment of 8 years and 1 day to 14 years, 8 months and 1 day, on top of P50,000 in civil indemnity and P50,000 in moral damages for the death of Hong Shi Cheng at the Balintang Channel.
Among those convicted were PCG Cmdr. Arnold dela Cruz, Seaman Second Class 2 Nicky Aurelio, and Seamen First Class Edrando Aguila, Mhelvyn Bendo II, Andy Gibb Golfo, Sonny Masangkay, Henry Solomon and PO2 Richard Corpuz.
But Coast Guard lawyers said they would contest the conviction before the Court of Appeals.
Philippine state prosecutors indicted the PCG men for firing at Taiwanese vessel Guang Da Xing No. 28 during what was supposed to be a routine maritime patrol on May 9, 2013 in waters off the northernmost part of the Philippines.
Taipei had imposed sanctions against Manila over the Balintang incident but it backtracked after a Philippine official traveled to Taiwan to apologize as authorities recommended the filing of charges against the accused.
- With a report from Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News