Taiwanese fisherman released by Philippines
By Joseph Yeh ,The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- A Taiwanese fisherman who was accused by Philippine authorities of trespassing into Philippine waters to fish was released yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday.
September 12, 2013, 12:12 am TWN
Tsai Po (蔡波) was released by Philippine authorities around noon yesterday, MOFA spokeswoman Anna Kao (高安) told The China Post.
The release of Tsai was the result of a weeklong negotiation between Taiwan's representative office in Manila and the relevant Philippine governmental organs, Kao noted.
The case was settled in a “mutually acceptable fashion,” Kao said. She did not, however, disclose further details on the case or how much Tsai's family has paid in exchange for his release.
Taking Tsai's case as an example, the MOFA spokesman urged Taiwanese fisherman to follow fishing regulations in disputed waters.
According to Tsai's family in southern Pingtung County, Tsai paid a fine of US$50,000.
Tsai was scheduled to return to Taiwan around 4 a.m. today on his raft, Tsai's wife told local reporters yesterday.
Tsai's wife surnamed Shih (施) insisted that Tsai did not intentionally enter Philippine territory. Tsai's raft had experienced a power failure at sea and drifted into Philippine waters, Shih said.
Manila Shows Good Will
According to a Central News Agency report from Manila yesterday, Tsai, who was detained by Philippine authorities accused of operating in the country's territorial waters since Sept. 3, was given a relatively light civil penalty for his alleged offense.
Philippine prosecutors also decided to revoke a poaching charge against Tsai, the CNA report said, a move to show their goodwill towards the Taiwanese government.
The Taiwanese fisherman faced a maximum fine of US$200,000 for his offense.
Tsai was arrested by Philippine authorities at 3 p.m. on Sept. 3 at a small islet named Ditarem near the island of Batanes.
According to MOFA, Tsai told Taiwanese officials in the Philippines that he was approached and arrested by several armed men in civilian clothing while he was “taking a nap” on the islet after completing his work in nearby waters.
He had been confined under guard at the Basco Sea Port since then.
James Chou (周穎華), deputy chief of MOFA's Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, previously said Tsai's raft was found operating south of the unofficial law enforcement boundary between Taiwan and the Philippines in the South China Sea.
But he noted that this “doesn't mean he had entered Philippine waters,” stressing that the incident happened in overlapping exclusive economic zones (EEZ) claimed by both countries.