the killing of the taiwanese fisherman by the philippine coast guard and the president’s refusal to apologize brings to mind the august 23 2010 luneta bloodbath that claimed the lives of 8 hong kong chinese.  the president also refused to apologize then.  a year later, the  survivors and the families of the 8 who died came to manila to commemorate the deaths of their loved ones with a buddhist ritual at the scene of the crimes, and again, still, the president refused to meet with them.  i blogged about it then, and reading it now, remember how offended i was for the hong kong chinese, and now that the president is adamant, all over again, in his refusal to personally formally apologize to the taiwanese, i can’t help wondering if this is a personality problem of sorts.  a hang-up that has to do with the killing of his dad in ’83?  maybe no one apologized to the family for that?  okay, maybe it’s a stretch.  maybe it’s just that the taiwanese demand for a formal apology is part of a package that includes paying compensation to the family of the victim and bringing the perpetrators to justice.  the very same demands made by the hong kong chinese, a formal apology, reparations not just to the families of the victims who died but also to the victims who survived but are scarred for life, and appropriate punishment of the government authorities whose gross negligence caused the bloodbath.  certainly, acceding to the taiwanese would mean finally acceding to the hong kong chinese, or else.

read teddy locsin’s What is to be done with Taiwan, alex magno’s Assymetrical, and a luneta survivor’s horrifying tale posted by raissa robles.


  1. BrianB

    We apologize and then what, they dig up more dirt? Do you know for a fact that this hasn’t happened before? Taiwan will use it to gain ground on the territory dispute.

  2. Actually, some current analyses say apology would have been a mistake. This whole episode is politically motivated, not founded on any search for moral truth. Had the President apologized, the reputation of Taiwanese leadership would have risen significantly, an outcome of having made another sovereign nation bow to Taiwan. By not apologizing, and remaining silent and dignified, President Aquino denied the Taiwanese leadership that victory and took control of the entire situation.

    • jojie

      JoeA@: :=). I agree. Taiwanese govt has not been recognized as separate entity from mainland China by UN, it is still a sub-province of China under the protectorate of USA in business terms.

  3. Sam S

    1. Why apologize at all when the investigation is pending? Is it not better to wait for the results and then (perhaps) apologize and hold whoever’s accountable accountable? The fact of the matter is we don’t know what happened. Yes, all the spectators are holding on to the detail of how many shots were fired, but can we really say, with all certainty, that we know what happened? Should we deprive our own countrymen of their right to a fair process by preemptively apologizing for their actions?

    2. The “recognition of sovereignty” issue should be on the table here. I’m no diplomat, but there is a reason why the heads of several sovereign countries don’t meet with the Taiwanese leadership in international summits. It seems that Taiwan’s turning this into a sovereignty issue, and they know we can’t just jump in and do it and put at risk our already shaky relationship with the Mainland. From my end, it seems that it’s Taiwan that’s bungling the situation at the moment. Either way, it should be on the table; and the conversation should be more complex than: “It’s Hong Kong all over again.”

    • manuel buencamino

      We cannot conclude that we committed an internationally wrongful act until our investigation is completed. Roque’s column would be beter titled as Jumping to Conclusions

    • I generally think Mr. Roque has good ideas, but in this instance, he is wrong. He is essentially advocating rush to judgment and apology before knowing all there is to know. In other terms, rushing judgment and submitting apology before the facts are in would be called a knee jerk response or even surrender or selling the Philippines down the river.

  4. manuel buencamino

    From Roque’s most recent column in Manila Standard

    “Elsewhere, we have those who have proven that persistence can pay-off. They were defeated in 2010 but in the words of Don Quixote, “rose up, brushed off the mud and continued their fight”. They were then catapulted into office. Leading this pack is Palawan Governor-elect Pepito Alvarez, the self-made billionaire who trounced the entrenched alliance of the Mitras and the fugitive Reyes brothers. With Pepito as governor of our last frontier, I do hope for a victory now in the case that I am handling for Palawan’s right to collect 40 percent of all royalties collected by the national government from Malampaya.

    “Previously, I told Budget Secretary Butch Abad to spend every single cent of the Malampaya funds for national defense rather than see those funds dissipated by the plunderers of the province. But with Alvarez now in power, we can all sleep at night knowing that the Malampaya funds will now go to lowering the cost of power, as mandated by law.”

    Not a very good judge of character

    • Disagree. You presume the Philippine Coast Guard is lying when they claim the unarmed ship tried to ram their boat? You would accept more Taiwanese poaching as the Philippines turns subservient to a nation known for its aggressive fishing out of its territory? Refer to some of the video readers submitted to blog entitled “Taiwan Runs Amok”. The Taiwanese are pursuing an agenda of pro-Taiwan fishing rights no matter what nation they steal food from. The OFW’s will likely bear no undue penalty now that the Aquino approach has softened Taiwan’s lunatic (politically motivated, undiplomatic) raging.

        • If you view the videotape of a Taiwanese boat ramming a Japanese Coast Guard boat, you will grasp that this was likely a surreal, unexpected, dynamic scene of aggression met with aggression. I think of the Coast Guard as our military, representing all of us, and think they do extraordinarily difficult, sometimes dangerous work, on our behalf. I won’t pre-judge or second guess them. That reflects an American perspective, of undying loyalty to her troops, because troops are willing to die for us.

          If the Coast Guard used excessive force, that is for Philippine authorities to judge after viewing the video tape and other evidence. Me, I appreciate that the Coast Guard people have a very difficult job, and I thank them for it.

  5. The Coast Guard, under threat of being rammed by the Taiwanese boat in Philippine territory, had two choices: 1. Accelerate and flee. 2. Stand its ground and defend the territory.

    I guess some Filipinos would rather choose number 1. Too bad.

  6. “…the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea prohibits the use of unnecessary use of force in dealing with illegal fishermen. In fact, the UNCLOS provides that fishermen caught illegally fishing in a states exclusive economic zone should not even be detained or charged criminally The only leeway granted to a party state is to apprehend the vessel which, in turn, must be immediately release upon posting of bond.” http://harryroque.com/tag/state-responsibility/

    • I agree that the Taiwanese should not have used unnecessary force to ram or otherwise threaten the Coast Guard Vessel and the Coast Guard did what cops often do when a law breaker threatens them and runs, trying to escape justice. Go to the source of the problem, and it was the Taiwanese, who could have stopped and had a friendly chat about what they were doing and why they were there. Instead they attacked.

  7. manuel buencamino

    True the UNCLOS prohibits the use of unnecessary force. Except that if you were in the Coast Guard vessel and the Taiwanese fishing vessel was bearing down on you, would you consider that firing a machine gun at the fishing boat’s engine to immobilize it unnecessary? Of course threatening those poachers with being locked in the same room as Harry might have sufficed :-)

    • Dr. Ming-Sung Kuo gives me confidence that my original estimate of the Taiwanese, that they are a good and intelligent people, still holds a little water. He explains the situation well. However, I do believe the dispute is over territory, to the extent that exclusive economic zones, when in conflict, have no resolution mechanism except the international courts. So until the matter gets to a court, and both parties accept the ruling of the court . . . or until the Philippines and Taiwan strike a written agreement themselves. . . both of which are unlikely in my estimate, we will still have these incidents arise from time to time. Hopefully in the next one, Taiwan will behave more in line with international diplomatic norms.