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Filipinos in Taiwan told: Limit activities

PH advises OFWs: Just stay at workplaces, homes

Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Philippine officials have advised thousands of Filipino workers to “limit their movement” in Taiwan, fearing a potentially violent backlash over the killing of a Taiwanese fisherman by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

Antonio Basilio, resident representative of Manila Economic and Cultural Office (Meco) in Taiwan, issued the advisory following a reported upsurge of attacks on some of the 87,000 Filipinos working in Taipei, Malacañang said Sunday.

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“According to Mr. Basilio, they have issued an advisory to our countrymen to limit their going out … They should avoid doing unnecessary things, in other words, to keep within their workplace and their homes,” Abigail Valte, deputy presidential spokesperson, said over state radio.

The Meco staff had also spoken to members of the Filipino community “to apprise them of what had happened, what the government has done,” Valte added.

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Any Filipino maltreated by a Taiwanese employer should contact the Meco “soonest” so its officials could make the proper representation and ensure that they get justice, she said.

Meco Chairman Amadeo Perez said his office had confirmed the attack on a Filipino by a gang of youths wielding a baseball bat, and was documenting other cases.

Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou has called for calm and urged Taiwanese to act decently toward Filipinos.

The May 9 killing of fisherman Hung Shih-chen by the PCG in waters off Balintang Island has sparked outrage in Taiwan and prompted Taiwanese sanctions, including a freeze on the hiring of new Filipino workers.

The PCG said the fishing vessel had intruded into Philippine waters and tried to ram its patrol boat.

Taiwan’s deputy justice minister Chen Ming-tang told reporters on Sunday that a joint inquiry was the only way to establish the truth about the May 9 incident.

“While our investigators can provide them with evidence they have collected, Filipino investigators can come to Taiwan to gather evidence, including talking to the other witnesses on board the fishing boat at the time of the shooting,” Chen said.

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Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, however, has rejected a joint investigation.

De Lima said she has urged Taiwan to wait for the Philippines to finish its “fair, thorough and expeditious probe.”

President Aquino has apologized over the “unfortunate” incident, but the Taiwanese found this unacceptable.

Malacañang also questioned the premature conclusion by the Taiwanese investigating team that Hung was murdered.

One-China policy

Perez said issues like Manila’s “one-China” policy and comments by Taiwanese investigators had complicated the situation.

“We are waiting for the right time because I was told by the secretary-general for Asian affairs, we should wait for the temperature in Taiwan to cool,” Perez said in an interview with dzMM radio.

“The Taiwanese are highly emotional and … the media in Taiwan are heating things up so tempers are running high.”

The Taiwan investigative team, which visited the country last week, described the shooting as “murder,” but Perez said the Taiwanese had not coordinated with local authorities before making the accusation.

Perez, whose office is in charge of relations in the absence of diplomatic ties, said lines of communication between his agency and the Taiwanese foreign ministry were still active despite the controversy.

He said the Department of Justice was still studying a request for a joint investigation when the Taiwanese made their allegations this weekend.

The investigators’ remarks “will further inflame the people of Taiwan,” he warned.

Perez also said Taiwan wanted President Aquino personally to write a letter of apology, but this could be considered a violation of the country’s one-China policy—recognizing Beijing rather than Taipei as the government of China.

Last week, Aquino sent Perez to Taiwan to convey his apology, but Taiwan rejected the message.

Fr. Edwin Corros, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Episcopal Commission on Migrant and Itinerant People, on Sunday urged Filipinos in Taiwan to document and report to Philippine authorities attacks against them.

Willing to help

“The Church there in Taiwan is open to help out our fellow Filipinos. They are very accommodating and very generous. Their bishops have even established migrant ministries all over the island to assist migrants from across the world,” Corros said over Church-run Radio Veritas.

He lamented that the country’s poor policies on labor export had placed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in danger, especially during conflicts between the Philippines and their host countries.

Also on Sunday, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago said in an interview over dzBB that the attacks by Taiwanese on Filipinos in Taiwan could be regarded as “acts of aggression” that could serve as basis for closing down the Manila office in Taipei.—With reports from AFP, AP, Jocelyn R. Uy and Cathy C. Yamsuan

Originally posted: 3:51 pm | Sunday, May 19th, 2013

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TAGS: Antonio Basilio, Features, fishing dispute, Global Nation, Manila Economic and Cultural Office, Philippine Coast Guard, Taiwan, Taiwan fishing boat
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