Manila court finds 8 Coast Guard members guilty in killing of Taiwanese fisherman

Eight members of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) this morning were convicted of homicide in the 2013 killing of a Taiwanese fisherman off the tiny archipelago province of Batanes.

In a ruling at Manila’s Regional Trial Court Branch 15, Judge Eduardo Ramon Reyes sentenced the eight sailors to anywhere from eight to 14 years in prison.

While no breakdown for the sentencing has been made public, Rappler reported the names of the eight as Commander Arnold Enriquez dela Cruz; Seaman 1st Class Edrando Quiapo Aguila; Seaman 1st Class Mhelvin Aguilar Bendo II; Seaman 1st Class Andy Gibb Ronario Golfo; Seaman 1st Class Sunny Galang Masangcay; Seaman 1st Class Henry Baco Solomon; Seaman 2nd Class Nicky Renold Aurello; and Petty Officer 2 Richard Fernandez Corpuz.

The men were found guilty of killing Hong Chi Cheng in Balintang channel when they opened fire at his fishing vessel. The PCG argued that they had acted in self-defense because Hong’s vessel attempted to ram their patrol boat, reported The Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Batanes is located roughly midway between the island of Luzon and Taiwan.

Aside from Hong, the boat carried two other Taiwanese and one Indonesian, all of whom survived the attack.

Despite today’s convictions, the men will remain free on bail pending their expected appeals.

The incident set off a diplomatic crisis between Taiwan and the Philippines when it occurred, with Taipei tightening visa application requirements for Filipino workers.

Restrictions were relaxed only after the Philippines apologized for the incident and the National Bureau of Investigation recommended the filing of charges against the eight Coast Guard sailors, reported ABS-CBN News.

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