Taiwan ministry calls for lifting of sanctions against Manila

TAIPEI (AFP) - Taiwan's foreign ministry said on Wednesday it would push for the lifting of sanctions against the Philippines after Manila recomended homicide charges in a shooting case that severely strained ties.

Calling Manila's move a "constructive response", the ministry said it would recommend the Taipei government improve relations, including lifting sanctions imposed after the shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman by the Philippine coast guard.

In a separate move Taiwanese prosecutors on Wednesday charged eight Filipino coast guard personnel with homicide following the killing in May.

The indictment was considered symbolic as it is unlikely that the Philippines will allow the accused to be tried in Taiwan due to the lack of formal diplomatic ties.

"The Philippine coast guard illegally chased an unarmed fishing boat for 75 minutes and fired more than 100 shots at it, which was clearly not proper defence ... and with an intent to kill," prosecutors said in a statement.

Among the eight charged with murder are the commanding officer Arnold dela Cruz and seaman first class Edrano Aguila, who was found to have fired the M14 rifle that killed the 65-year-old fisherman.

Taiwan's indictment came on the same day as Philippine Justice Department investigators recommended homicide charges against the eight coast guard personnel.

The incident happened in waters near a Philippine island that Taiwan also claims as part of its economic zone.

Taiwan reacted furiously, announcing a ban on the hiring of new workers from the Philippines and suspending official trade and academic exchanges.

The two sides later swapped teams of investigators following weeks of acrimony over the death.