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Philippine President Apologizes for Taiwanese Fisherman Death

Philippine President Benigno Aquino has apologized to Taiwan for the shooting death of a Taiwanese fisherman by Manila's Coast Guard, after Taipei angrily rejected an earlier statement of regret for the incident.

A presidential spokesperson said Mr. Aquino has sent a personal representative to Taiwan to convey "his and the Filipino people's deep regret and apology" to the family of the fisherman and to the people of Taiwan.

Hours earlier, Taiwan recalled its envoy to the Philippines and announced a number of other punitive diplomatic measures in protest of what it said was an insincere response by Manila's representative office in Taipei.

The earlier statement expressed deep regret and promised to investigate the incident, but stopped short of an official apology. It is unclear how Taiwan's government would react to the latest statement.

But Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Kao An said late Wednesday that Mr. Aquino's representative would not be formally welcomed in Taiwan.

"We have confirmed that Chairman (Amadeo R.) Perez's visit was not formally authorized by the Philippines government, therefore we refuse to meet him."

Taiwanese Premier Jiang Yi-huah had said his government would impose a "second wave" of "sanction measures" if Manila did not offer a "formal and sincere" response by 10:00 UTC on Wednesday.

Mr. Jiang said Taiwan is requesting the Philippines representative leave Taiwan, and said a naval drill will begin a drill near disputed waters. He also announced a hiring freeze of Filipino workers. More than 85,000 Filipinos work in Taiwan.

A Philippines Coast Guard ship opened fire on the fishing boat last Thursday in the South China Sea where both countries' economic interests overlap, killing a 65-year-old fisherman.

The Philippines acknowledged its role in the shooting, but said it was acting in self-defense because the fisherman's boat was about to ram the coast guard vessel.

Taiwan and the Philippines, along with Brunei, China, Malaysia, and Vietnam all have competing claims to parts of the sea, which may be rich in oil and natural gas.

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