The Philippines’ decision to send 14 Taiwanese fraud suspects to China for trial was made in observance of Manila’s “one China” policy, Philippine Presidential Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr said yesterday.
Ochoa’s remarks in an interview on DZMM Radio in the Philippines were the first official comment from the Presidential Office in Manila since a dispute broke out on Feb. 2 between Taiwan and the Philippines over Manila’s deportation of 14 Taiwanese to China that same day.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded last night to Ochoa’s remarks with a statement that said Taiwan’s understanding of the Philippines’ “one China policy” was that it was a policy, not a law, and that any country should have its foreign policy based in accordance with its laws.
In line with the Philippines’ immigration law, the Taiwanese should have been deported to Taiwan, not China, the ministry said.
Earlier yesterday, Minister of Foreign Affairs Timothy Yang (楊進添) said the government was seeking talks with several Southeast Asian countries about the possibility of a joint effort to combat cross-border crime.
In an interview with the Central News Agency, Yang said incidents of Chinese and Taiwanese working together to defraud people in China and Taiwan have occurred not only in the Philippines, but in other Southeast Asian countries as well.
Apart from telephone and Internet fraud, cross-border drug trafficking and arms smuggling are also a problem, he said.
“We need to build a mechanism for cooperation to combat international crime,” he said.
The foreign ministry and the Ministry of Justice will draft a proposal on talking with Southeast Asian countries on combating cross-border crime, Yang said.
Yang also said he would summon Antonio Basilio, head of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei, as soon as Representative to Manila Donald Lee (李傳通) returned from to Taipei yesterday.
The foreign ministry has called in Basilio and his deputies three times over the past week to lodge protests over what it said was the Philippines’ disregard for Taiwan’s jurisdiction over the Taiwanese deported to China.
Meanwhile, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) accused Lee of neglecting his duty.
Tsai said the Taiwanese were arrested by Philippine authorities in late December and Lee had 38 days to negotiate with Manila before they were deported to China. However, according to information he received from Taiwanese businesspeople in the Philippines, Lee played golf many times during that period, Tsai said.
“It was a lie when the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Lee claimed that they had done their best to deal with Manila over this matter,” Tsai said.
Some of the parents of the Taiwanese suspects told a press conference yesterday that they hoped their offspring could be tried by Taiwanese courts, not Chinese.
Accompanied by DPP lawmakers, the mother of one deportees said her son should be punished if he has “done something wrong, but I hope he can be tried here in Taiwan, so that I can at least see him.”
The father of another suspect apologized for his son “upsetting the government and society.” He said he hoped his son would be returned to Taiwan for trial because he did not know how trials were conducted in China.
Another parent said he did not know where his son was because the foreign ministry had not yet contacted him or his family, and he had only learned about the deportation from TV reports.