DOLE: 'Freeze hiring' for Filipinos in Taiwan lifted ; Taiwan - PHL dispute resolved

Manila, Philippines - The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) announced today that 'freeze hiring' for Filipino workers in Taiwan is finally lifted after 3 months of dialogue and investigation. Hiring ban is one of the 11 sanctions imposed by Taiwan government to the Philippines after Balintang Channel incident on May 9 that caused death of Taiwanese fisherman.

Taiwan and the Philippines now restored relations after working several months to resolve the dispute and economic issues as a result of sanctions.

Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) Chairman Amadeo Perez Jr who served as representative of President Benigno Aquino III conducted a meeting or bilateral exchanges on Thursday night, August 8 with Taiwanese foreign affairs minister David Lin to formally ask apology for the incident.

Taiwanese government said the Philippines had met its demands: a formal apology, compensation to the slain man’s family, the start of fishing rights talks and agreement to prosecute the shooters. The turning point came Wednesday when Manila recommended murder charges against eight coast guard crew members.
“The key is that they agreed to prosecute as a murder issue, not self-defense,” says Alex Chiang, associate professor of international politics at National Chengchi University in Taipei.

Aside from the removal of the freeze hiring, the other sanctions lifted includes a "red" travel alert urging Taiwanese not to visit the Philippines and the suspension of exchanges between high-level officials, as well as a halt to exchanges on trade and academic affairs.

Investigation: Findings and Recommendations

The Department of Justice (DOJ) submitted an Executive Summary report on Wednesday, August 7 regarding encounter between members of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and fishermen from Taiwan.

HONG SHI-CHENG, married, 64 years old (at the time of his death), a Taiwanese national is the deceased fisherman who died as a result of the shooting incident. His daughter, HONG TZU CHIEN, filed a murder complaint in Taiwan and also the probable private complainant in the case/s to be filed in the Philippines.

"The offense committed by the PCG crew who fired their weapons at the Taiwanese fishing vessel is homicide", DOJ said.

The 8 PCG personnel are liable for homicide because a) the victim died from a gunshot wound inflicted by the PCG; b) the claim of self-defense raised is unsubstantiated; and c) the absence of self-defense makes the act of firing unlawful.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) as investigating agency on the Balintang Channel incident also recommends the filing of criminal complaints for homicide against PCG personnel, and obstruction of justice against 4 PCG personnel.

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