The Philippines deployed search-and-rescue teams Monday to help look for a missing Taiwan-flagged fishing boat with a crew of one Taiwanese and five Indonesians, the coast guard said.
The boat, Sheng Feng No. 128, was last seen some 767 kilometers (414 nautical miles) northwest of the island nation of Palau in the western Pacific, the Philippine Coast Guard said in a statement.
The Coast Guard Command Center in Manila said it had directed Coast Guard Districts in the eastern seaboard and facing the Pacific to carry out the search-and-rescue operations after Commander Arthur Yang, Taiwan’s coast guard attache, requested assistance.
Two U.S. Coast Guard aircraft had earlier been deployed to “conduct air surveillance but yielded a negative result,” the PCG said.
Similarly, a commercial vessel as well as eight Taiwanese fishing boats had scoured the vast seas but come up empty, it said. Two Taiwanese coast guard cutters were also on “the way to search vicinity waters,” the statement said.
The Philippine assistance was requested “due to the possibility that the missing Taiwanese fishing vessel drifted towards the country’s eastern seaboard,” the Philippine Coast Guard said.
The Philippines adheres to the “one-China policy” but enjoys healthy commercial relations with Taiwan, where an estimated 150,000 Filipinos live and work, making them the third largest contingent of expatriate workers.
Both Taipei and Manila also have overlapping claims to parts of the South China Sea, along with China, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei.
Recently, the Philippines granted the United States greater access to its military bases over fears of a potential invasion of Taiwan by China.
The last diplomatic row between the Philippines and Taiwan took place in 2013, when Taipei imposed sanctions on Manila after the killing of a Taiwanese fisherman by Filipino coast guard personnel in waters north of the Philippine archipelago.
Taiwan alleged that the killing took place in its exclusive economic zone and was a violation of international law. The sanctions included the freezing of applications for work permits, the cessation of economic exchanges and military exercises in waters between the two sides. The row however was later resolved, and diplomatic ties normalized.
Jojo Rinoza and Jeoffrey Maitem contributed to this report from Manila and Davao City, Philippines.
BenarNews is an RFA-affiliated news service.