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Philippines turns down joint probe on Taiwanese fisherman's death


18:56, May 16, 2013

MANILA, May 16 (Xinhua) -- The Philippines turned down on Thursday Taiwan's request of participating in the investigation into the killing of a Taiwanese fisherman by the Philippine Coast Guard last week.

Responding to a question on the arrival of Taiwanese investigators for a joint probe into the shooting incident, Philippine Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda denied that a joint investigation of the incident had been approved.

"I'm not aware of any approval of any joint investigation," Lacierda said, adding, "As far as I know, Secretary of Justice Leila de Lima has not been made aware of the presence of the investigators."

He said there are protocols to be observed under a Mutual Legal Assistance arrangement.

On another occasion, the justice secretary told reporters on Thursday, "I don't think we can agree to a joint investigation because we're a sovereign country. We have our own processes. We have our own justice system."

She said it would be a "protocol" for the Taiwanese investigators to channel their request through the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO), the Philippines' representative office in Taiwan, local television GMA NEWS quoted de Lima as saying.

The Philippine government is already taking "preliminary steps, " by coordinating with the MECO, to send National Bureau of Investigation agents to conduct an investigation, she added.

According to Taiwan media, the Taiwan investigation team has arrived in Manila, but no officials from the Philippine government received the team members.

The shooting incident happened on May 9 at a sea area 164 nautical miles southeast of the southernmost tip of Taiwan, when Philippine Coast Guard shot dead a Taiwanese fisherman, named Hung Shih-Cheng, 65, one of four crew members of the Taiwanese fishing vessel Guang Ta Hsin 28. Moreover, the Philippine ship chased the fishing vessel for about one hour, even when the attacked fishing vessel was fleeing at full speed.

The Philippine coast guard has admitted firing at one of four Taiwanese fishing vessels. Philippine President Benigno Aquino III made an apology on Wednesday to the family of the victim and Taiwan people through his personal representative Amadeo Perez, chairman of the MECO.

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