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September 24, 2017

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Philippine hackers hit Taiwan gov't sites

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A cyber battle has erupted following the shooting of a Taiwanese fishing boat by the Philippine coast guards, paralyzing the websites of both countries' presidents, as well as those of Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND), Ministry of Economic Affairs and Coast Guard Administration (CGA).

Taiwanese fisherman Hung Shih-cheng (洪石成) was killed on May 9 when the boat he was aboard was fired on by a Philippine Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) vessel, sparking fury in Taiwan. Hackers launched a cyberattack on the Philippine presidential website the next day.

The action was returned in kind, with several Taiwanese government websites taken down.

The Taiwan presidential website was hacked twice but was restored after several hours and no information was taken, said Presidential Office spokeswoman Garfie Li (李佳霏).

Investigations traced the first hacker's IP address to the Philippines, while the second attacker used a Singaporean IP as a disguise, said Li.

CGA Bolsters Fishing Boat Protection

The CGA announced that it has dispatched additional vessels to protect Taiwanese fishing boats operating in the Bashi Channel. All are prepared for combat should another encounter with Philippine vessels turn violent.

The vessels are larger and equipped with heavier fire power than those of the Philippines, said Coast Guard squad leader Ou Man-wei (敖曼偉), assuring the public that the CGA will do everything necessary to protect Taiwanese fishermen and prevent future fishing conflicts.

All civilized countries have agreed that the coast guard should be a country's first line of defense, and that the Navy is its second line, said MND spokesman Luo Shao-he. "The Navy supports the CGA, its primary purpose being to protect local fishermen."

President Offers Condolences to Fisherman's Family

President Ma Ying-jeou visited the dead fisherman's family in Siaoliouciou (小琉球) yesterday, vowing to make Manila apologize and provide compensation for the senseless murder.

Ma on Saturday said he was unable to accept the Philippine government's refusal to apologize and demanded those responsible for the killing be arrested and punished. He also demanded that the Philippines issue a formal apology to Hung's family within 72 hours.

"The BFAR's act of brutality should not be pardoned, it was an illegal execution," said Ma after Manila, which offered its "sympathy," refused to apologize.

The Philippines' top envoy in Taiwan, Antonio Basilio (白熙禮), later offered an apology and extended his condolences to Hung's family after being summoned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs over the incident.

Ma shook hands and embraced Hung's widow and son, promising that the government will not give up on the issue easily.

Hung's daughter asked Ma to ensure that Taiwanese fishermen can operate in a safe fishing environment, and that an efficient emergency channel be created for emergency rescues. She called the rescue procedure in her father's situation complicated and time-consuming, and said it squandered any chance to save his life.

"I have already asked responsible departments to simplify the reporting procedure," Ma said, noting that Taiwan fishermen may call 118 to report emergencies.

The government has activated emergency rescue systems on Taiwanese waters and surrounding border areas, Ma added.

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