A fishing trawler that was fired on by the Philippines' coastguard limped back to Taiwan yesterday, riddled with more than 50 bullet holes and carrying the body of a 65-year-old crew member.
However, Manila refused to apologise to Taipei, saying the incident happened when the coast-guard vessel acted in self-defence to avoid being rammed while tackling "illegal fishing".
Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou said yesterday the island would not rule out possible sanctions against Manila.
"We will seek justice for our fisherman. We will not rule out the possibility of taking any kind of sanctions [against the Philippines]," Ma said while inspecting a coastguard drill in central Taiwan. "The Philippines shot an unarmed fishing boat.
"This was a brutal and cold-blooded act," he added.
Ma reiterated Taipei's demand for Manila to apologise, apprehend the killer and offer compensation.
Some Taiwanese lawmakers urged the government to freeze the hiring of Philippine workers in protest at the shooting.
Manila admitted on Friday that its coastguard had fired on a Taiwanese trawler the previous day, but said the action took place inside its own territorial waters and that it had no idea it had killed 65-year-old Hung Shih-cheng, one of four crew members aboard.
Taiwanese investigators counted 52 bullet holes on the boat, while it was confirmed that Hung had died after being shot in the neck. The trawler came under fire from heavy machine guns, Taipei's official Central News Agency reported.
Abigail Valte, a spokeswoman for Philippine President Benigno Aquino, and coastguard chief Rear Admiral Rodolfo Isorena said in Manila that their patrol boat "was forced to fire the shots because the [Taiwanese] fishing vessel attempted to ram them".
However, this was denied by the victim's son and trawler captain, Hung Yu-chih, who said the Philippine vessel opened fire without warning.
Additional reporting by Associated Press