World Bulletin/News Desk
Taiwan recalled on Wednesday its envoy to the Philippines, froze applications for work permits and ordered military exercises in waters between the two sides to press a demand for an apology for the shooting death of a Taiwanese fisherman.
A spokesman for Philippine President Benigno Aquino later said a formal apology was being offered to the "appropriate authority" in Taiwan.
The row is the latest flare-up in tension in Asian seas where disputes in various places between various countries have raised fears of conflict in the economically vibrant region where competition for resources is likely to intensify.
Taiwan had earlier issued an ultimatum to the Philippines to apologise to the family of the fisherman who was killed in a shooting last week by the Philippine coastguard in waters off the northern Philippines.
"Due to the Philippines government's insufficient ... sincerity and its inconsistency, President Ma Ying-jeou expresses strong dissatisfactions and he cannot accept the reckless and perfunctory responses from the Philippines," the Presidential Office said in a statement.
After a high-level meeting, it added, Taiwan decided to immediately impose sanctions, including the recall of its envoy and a freeze on work permit applications.
More than 85,000 Filipinos work in Taiwan, many as domestic workers.
A Philippines fisheries official said earlier one of its vessels, acting under the threat of being rammed, opened fire last Thursday on a Taiwanese fishing boat about 170 nautical miles southeast of Taiwan, killing one person on board.
Philippine presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda told a news conference in Manila an apology was being offered to the "appropriate authority" in Taiwan. He appealed to Taiwan not to take out its anger on Filipinos working there.
"We understand the grief and hurt of the family and of the people of Taiwan over this unfortunate loss and we empathize with them," Lacierda said, appealing for "calm and sobriety".
"Let us not involve our Filipino compatriots there. They are there working and they are there working for an honest living".
Philippine President Benigno Aquino had ordered a "thorough, exhaustive, impartial and expeditious investigation" into the shooting, Lacierda said.
There was no immediate reaction from Taiwan.
Earlier, Premier Jiang Yi-huah of Taiwan told reporters further measures could be imposed including an end to visa-free access for Philippine nationals and stopping economic exchanges.
Separately, a Taiwan Defence Ministry official said military vessels and aircraft would be dispatched to the Bashi Channel between Taiwan and the Philippines to carry out a two-day military drill.
The Philippines and Taiwan, as well as China, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam, are embroiled in disputes over territory in the nearby South China Sea, potentially rich in oil and gas and criss-crossed by crucial shipping lanes.
The disputes have sometimes escalated to confrontation between vessels.
To the north, China and Japan, and Japan and South Korea, are involved in different disputes over small islands. Fears of confrontation have grown there too over the past year.
Last Mod: 15 Mayıs 2013, 12:55