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Irresponsible and inept

China Daily | Updated: 2013-05-17 08:17

The fatal shooting of a Taiwan fisherman by the Philippine Coast Guard last week continues to fuel tensions between Taipei and Manila. Manila must be aware that it will only face more condemnation and countermeasures if it intends to use delaying tactics to handle the incident.

That it has taken Manila four days to agree to apologize for the killing shows its insincerity as well as its indifference to human life, not to mention that, before a representative of Philippine President Benigno Aquino made a formal apology to Taiwan on Wednesday, Manila's responses had been anything but apologetic.

Immediately after Aquino's belated apology, Taiwan expressed its strong dissatisfaction and revealed its decision to adopt countermeasures, including freezing Filipino applications for work permits. It is what Manila deserves.

It is estimated that the freeze will result in the loss of about 35,000 jobs for Filipinos in Taiwan, which would be a loss of NT$4.8 billion ($159.8 million) in foreign exchange to the Philippines.

Under the backdrop that Taipei has always been victimized in similar maritime disputes with Manila in recent years, it seems Taipei is determined to make Manila pay a price for its deeds this time. Its stern reaction is both justified and necessary because a show of reconciliation after a 2006 killing has only emboldened Manila to continue with its rash and dangerous behavior.

The ball is in Manila's court now. If it chooses not to escalate the tensions, it should conduct a serious investigation into the incident and give an honest account of it as soon as possible. Then it will be easy to decide who should be held responsible and how much compensation should be paid. It should not be difficult to dig up the truth of the incident.

To prevent a recurrence of such tragic events, Manila should conduct some serious soul-searching as well. In recent years, its provocative moves and continuous rogue behavior have largely contributed to the escalation of the South China Sea issue, posing a threat to regional peace and stability.

It has become a standard formula for the Philippines to play tricks on the one hand while trumpeting its commitment to peaceful solutions on the other. Last week's killing is ready proof to Manila's indifference to the region's maritime safety.

Manila should be warned that eventually it will pay a dear price if it continues with its irresponsible behavior.

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