MANILA – A court has convicted eight personnel of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) of homicide following the death of a Taiwanese fisherman at the Balintang Channel six years ago.
In a decision released on Wednesday, the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 15 has sentenced the eight PCG men to 8 to 14 years 8 in prison, including a P50,000 worth of civil indemnity and P50,000 in moral damages.
Among those convicted were the following:
* 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
* Petty Officer 2 Richard Fernandez Corpuz
These PCG personnel were found to have shot dead Taiwanese Hong Shi Cheng after a sea chase off the coast of Batanes and Babuyan Islands on May, 2013. The incident caused a diplomatic spat between Taiwan and the Philippines.
Taiwan has imposed sanctions on the Philippines, which were lifted only after a Philippine government official traveled to Taiwan to apologize and after the NBI recommended filing of charges against the 8 accused.
The respondents have initially sought for the dismissal of the case for insufficiency of evidence but the Manila City court denied their demurrer in October 2018 and stood by its ruling earlier this year.
Six of the PCG personnel have claimed there was no “personal and positive identification” of them as the persons who committed the crime.
But the testimonies of the Taiwanese forensic official and a ballistician from the National Bureau of Investigation showed that the Taiwanese vessel was riddled with bullets and that the slugs found in the boat matched the firearms recovered from the accused’s vessel.
The PCG, meanwhile, plans to appeal the verdict before the Court of Appeals as they believed that the eight PCG personnel just did their job after the Taiwanese fisherman was caught poaching in the Philippine waters./PN