MANILA -- Taiwan on Wednesday welcomed the Manila Regional Trial Court's (RTC) verdict that found eight Philippine Coast Guard personnel (PCG) guilty of killing Taiwanese fisherman Hong Shi Cheng in a scuffle at the Balintang Channel in 2013.
"The Government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) welcomes the verdict and expresses its gratitude and respect to the Philippine judicial system," Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in the Philippines said in a statement sent to reporters.
According to TECO, the verdict does not only serve as a symbol of justice but also a "testament to the solid relationship and deep mutual trust between Taiwan and the Philippines."
The shooting incident, which involves eight officers of the PCG, including Commander Arnold dela Cruz, occurred on May 9, 2013 off the coast of Batanes. The PCG men encountered and fired at Hong's Taiwanese fishing vessel Guang Da Xing No. 28 that was catching tuna within the country's exclusive economic zone.
The Manila RTC Branch 15 sentenced dela Cruz together with Seaman Second Class Nicky Reynold Aurello, Petty Officer Second Class Richard Corpus and Edrando Quiapo Aguila, Mhelvyn Aguilar Bendo II, Andy Gibb Golfo, Sunny Galang Masangkay, and Henry Baco Solomon to up to 14 years imprisonment and were ordered to pay PHP100,000 in civil indemnity and moral damages.
"Taiwan and the Philippines have long been important close neighbors. Today, the long-awaited justice in this shooting incident was served, but it was a hard and a bitter experience for both countries," TECO said.
"We now have to move on from this tragic incident, and determine how to further enhance the bilateral relationship between our two countries," it stressed.
To avoid similar incidents in the future, Taiwan and the Philippines in 2015 signed a Fisheries Law Enforcement Agreement to boost Manila and Taipei's engagement in fisheries law enforcement.
Since then, TECO said that annual technical meetings have been held between the two sides.
Source: Philippines News Agency