The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday lodged a protest with Manila, threatening to re-examine bilateral relations after Philippine authorities allegedly ignored the ministry’s request not to send 14 Taiwanese suspected of involvement in an international fraud ring to stand trial in China.
The ministry said the Philippine government had violated legal procedures and international law by deporting the 14 Taiwanese to China.
“We are firmly against such an act and will re-examine all exchanges between the two countries,” the ministry said in a statement.
It said Manila’s National Bureau of Investigation and Beijing’s Ministry of Public Security had formed a joint task force and arrested 14 Taiwanese and 10 Chinese suspected of international racketeering during a raid in Manila on Dec. 27.
The ring’s victims are believed to be Chinese, with the gang netting NT$600 million (US$20.6 million) from their swindles. Beijing asked Manila to extradite all 24 suspects to China in accordance with an extradition treaty signed between the two countries in 2001, the ministry statement said.
The ministry’s representative to the Philippines has visited the 14 Taiwanese several times after learning of the extradition and firmly requested Manila return them to Taiwan for trial, it said.
The ministry has summoned Antonio Basilio, the representative of the Philippines in Taiwan, and his deputy, Carlo Aquino, twice to express its position.
The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in the Philippines had obtained a restraining order from the appeals court in Manila in an attempt to block the deportation and request the release of the Taiwanese. Nevertheless, Manila deported all 24 suspects to China yesterday, the ministry said.
In addition to lodging a strong protest with the Philippine government, the ministry said Representative to the Philippines Donald Lee (李傳通) had written a letter to Philippine President Benigno Aquino III.
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Shen Ssu-tsun (沈斯淳) also summoned Carlo Aquino yesterday morning to lodge a protest and notify him that the ministry would re-examine all exchanges with the Philippines.
The ministry has also notified the Ministry of Justice and the Mainland Affairs Council in the hopes that they could ask Beijing to repatriate the 14 Taiwanese to Taiwan. Taipei and Beijing signed the Cross-Strait Agreement on Joint Crime-Fighting and Judicial Mutual Assistance in June 2009.
Mainland Affairs Council Deputy Minister Liu Te-shun (劉德勳) told the Taipei Times that the justice ministry and Straits Exchange Foundation contacted their Chinese counterparts yesterday, requesting the Taiwanese be sent back to Taiwan for trial.
Liu declined to comment on Manila’s actions, saying it was the foreign ministry’s jurisdiction.
The Manila Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei declined yesterday to comment on the issue
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CNA