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Taiwan stages warship exercise near northern Philippines

May 17, 2013

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Tensions between Taiwan and Philippines over the killing of a fisherman seemed to heighten Thursday (May 16th) when Taiwan staged a military exercise in waters near the Philippines' Batan Island, AFP reported.

Last week, Philippine Coast Guard personnel shot the Taiwanese man dead after he allegedly ventured into Philippine waters.

Though Manila has apologised repeatedly, Taipei has recalled its envoy from the Philippines and imposed a series of sanctions, including freezing the hiring of new Filipino workers.

The maneuvers Thursday involved a Taiwanese destroyer, frigate and four coast guard ships deployed to press Taiwan's claims in the area, Rear Admiral Lee Tung-pao said.

"The move is aimed to highlight our determination to safeguard sovereignty. The coast guards have vowed to protect our fishermen wherever they are, and we'll support them," Lee said, according to AFP.

Two Taiwanese Mirage 2000-5 fighters flew over the fleet at low altitude during the exercise.

Philippine presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda insisted the shooting happened in Philippine waters and said the government should not have to "appease" Taiwan.

"We have gone the extra mile," Lacierda told reporters, referring to President Benigno Aquino sending an envoy Amadeo Perez to Taipei. "We have acted uprightly and decently as a respectable member of the international community."

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