Published by the Visayan Daily Star Publications, Inc.
|NINFA R. LEONARDIA|
Editor-in-Chief & President
NIDA A. BUENAFE
MAJA P. DELY
ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA|
After the initial furor that followed the shooting incident where 65-year-old Taiwanese fisherman Hung Shih-cheng was killed after his boat was fired at by members of the Philippine Coast Guard on May 9 while in waters near a Philippine island that Taiwan also claims as part of its economic zone, Taiwan and the Philippines have “agreed in principle” not to use force in resolving fishing disputes.
The Taiwan Foreign Ministry said in its website that the agreement was reached during the first preparatory meeting on fishery cooperation held in Manila last Friday. The accord was aimed at avoiding a recurrence of the incident that killed a Taiwanese fisherman, strained relations between the two countries, and even generated public unrest that targeted and possibly endangered Filipinos in living and working Taiwan during that time.
The statement added that “the two sides will reach concrete results in undertaking fishing disputes to avoid the use of force and violence in the future and to prevent unfortunate incidents from happening again.” The two sides also agreed to share their maritime law enforcement procedures and establish means for notifying each other without delay whenever actions are taken against vessels and crews of the other party and will develop a mechanism for the prompt release of detained fishing vessels and their crews, in line with international practice. Further meetings will also be held regarding fisheries cooperation, including management and conservation schemes.
Manila Economic and Cultural Office (Meco) Chair Amadeo Perez says that the talks went well and he hopes that these would lead to a formal agreement on peaceful enforcement of fishery laws by both countries. We hope that the Meco officials and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office officials can indeed come to an acceptable and win-win agreement now that cooler heads have prevailed, because the uncomfortably close proximity between Philippines and Taiwan means that such incidents are bound to happen again in that disputed area.
This is a golden opportunity for both countries to talk, clarify matters and iron out their differences without sacrificing national interests with regards to that sensitive topic. We hope that the Philippines and Taiwan can show the civilized world how such disputes are supposed to be resolved.*