Updated: Sat, 11 May 2013 12:06:35 GMT | By Agence France-Presse

Taiwan threatens sanctions over Philippines shooting

President Ma Ying-jeou said Saturday Taiwan would consider sanctions against the Philippines amid widespread public outrage at Manila over the shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman.

Taiwan threatens sanctions over Philippines shooting

File photo of a Philippines Coast Guard vessel on patrol against illegal shipping. The Philippines admitted on May 10, 2013 that its coastguard fired at a Taiwanese fishing boat in an incident that authorities in Taipei said left a crewman dead and triggered widespread outrage on the island.

"We will definitely seek justice for our fisherman. We will not rule out the possibility of taking any kind of sanctions" against the Philippines, Ma said while inspecting a coastguard drill in central Taiwan.

"The Philippines shot an unarmed fishing boat. This is very brutal and cold-blooded," he said, reiterating Taipei's demand for Manila to apologise, apprehend the killer and compensate.

Some Taiwanese lawmakers urged the government to freeze the hiring of Philippine workers to protest after the Philippines admitted its coastguard had fired at a Taiwanese fishing boat.

Taiwanese authorities said 65-year-old fisherman Hung Shih-cheng was killed during Thursday's incident, which also left the boat riddled with more than 50 bullet holes.

Abigail Valte, a spokeswoman for Philippine President Benigno Aquino, told a government radio station that authorities had launched a "transparent and impartial investigation" into the incident.

She expressed hopes that economic ties with Taipei will not be affected and added that the coastguard crew involved in the incident have been temporarily suspended to ensure a fair probe.

"Let's wait for the investigation," Aquino's spokesman Ricky Carandang told AFP when asked to comment on Taiwan's sanctions threat.

Ma's government has come under pressure from the opposition and the media to take action, with the Philippines refusing to apologise and saying the coastguard was tackling illegal fishing.

Philippine coastguard spokesman Commander Armand Balilo said Friday the incident took place in Philippine waters and the Filipino personnel had been properly carrying out their duties to stop illegal fishing.

"If somebody died, they deserve our sympathy but not an apology," Balilo told reporters.

Hung's son has insisted that the boat did not cross into Philippine waters.

The Taipei-based China Times called the incident a "criminal case" and demanded Manila shoulder the full responsibility.

"The Philippines' uncivilised action apparently violated maritime convention, the Taiwan government must take strong counter moves to defend our fishermen's rights and prevent similar tragedy," it said in an editorial.

The Apple Daily newspaper called the shooting "an act of brigands" and said Taiwanese people "angrily demand the blood debt be paid".

Some Taiwanese Internet users allegedly attacked and temporarily paralysed several Philippine government websites Friday night, according to Apple Daily.

The incident comes at a time of heightened tensions around the region over rival claims to the nearby South China Sea.

China, the Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei all have competing claims to parts of the sea.

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