The Philippine government held an extraordinary meeting yesterday after Taipei lodged a protest over the deportation to China of 14 Taiwanese allegedly involved in an international fraud ring, a Taiwanese government official said on condition of anonymity, adding that Taiwan would monitor how Manila handles the matter.
The Philippine government has yet to respond formally to the protest made by Taipei on Wednesday, including a strongly worded statement that Taiwan could re-examine bilateral relations and suspend exchanges over the controversy.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also sent a letter of protest to Philippine President Benigno Aquino III.
Deputy Representative of the Philippines in Taipei Carlo Aquino apologized to Taiwan when he was summoned by Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Shen Ssu-tsun (沈斯淳) on Wednesday afternoon, ministry deputy spokesman Steve Shia (夏季昌) told the Taipei Times by telephone.
Philippine Representative to Taiwan Antonio Basilio returned to Manila on Wednesday morning to deal with the matter, Shia said.
Basilio had been summoned to meet foreign ministry officials before he left and was clearly aware of Taiwan’s position that the Philippines had no right to deport the 14 Taiwanese to China, Shia said.
The Taiwanese, along with 10 Chinese, were arrested on Dec. 27 in Manila on suspicion of swindling NT$600 million (US$20.6 million) through a scam that largely targeted Chinese.
Approached for comment yesterday, Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) said the Philippines had ignored international practice by extraditing the Taiwanese to China and had shown “disrespect” to Taiwan by “failing to cherish the friendship between the two countries.”
Wu said he had asked the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) and the Straits Exchange Foundation to negotiate with China to ensure the return of the Taiwanese to Taipei.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday accused the government of cowardice, accused China of making an outrageous demand and said the deportation was deplorable.
The DPP statement demanded the government look into possible neglect by Taiwan’s diplomats leading to the extradition and that it do everything in its power to ensure the 14 return to Taiwan as soon as possible.
Taipei was not active enough in its negotiations with Manila over the matter, the DPP said, adding that asking the council to handle the mater by seeking Beijing’s assistance would turn a diplomatic matter involving two countries into a cross-strait one.
The DPP called on Manila to appreciate the sensitivity of the matter and refrain from playing into Beijing’s hands.
The deportation shows that the government’s pro-Beijing policy has led other countries to conclude that Beijing has right of governance over Taiwan, the DPP said.
“How can the government protect its people when its failure in diplomacy has eroded the country’s sovereignty to such an extent that [China now has] extraterritorial rights?” the DPP said.