President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday expressed displeasure with Manila over a diplomatic dispute that has chilled relations between the two countries, reiterating a demand that the Philippines apologize for deporting 14 Taiwanese fraud suspects to China earlier this month.
During a meeting with Philippine Senator Manuel Roxas, who was dispatched by Manila to mend fences with Taipei, at the Presidential Office in the morning, Ma said he had agreed to meet the special envoy “with a heavy heart.”
“Our government and the people are very angry with the improper expulsion of 14 of our citizens to China,” he said. “I am seeing you today because I think that long-term friendship and cooperation between the Republic of China [ROC] and the Philippines are important … How your country handles the matter from now on will serve as an important reference for how we develop bilateral ties.”
Ma said the Philippines made three major mistakes during the process.
While the Taiwanese were expelled from the Philippines, Philippine officials said they were extradited. They were also not sent to their native country — the ROC — a move Ma said seriously violated international law and practices.
The 14 Taiwanese were all ROC citizens who legally entered the Philippines with proper documents. However, the Philippine government claimed they did not have legal travel documents.
“Your government officials lied openly,” Ma said.
Finally, Taiwanese authorities had obtained a restraining order from a Philippine court.
However, Manila ignored its legal provisions and “illegally sent our people to China,” Ma said.
“This is not what a democratic country should do,” he said.
Ma said Manila must be held responsible for the mistakes and apologize, a message he asked Roxas to convey to Philippine President Benigno Aquino III.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Taipei and Manila had achieved a seven-point consensus over the incident.
A “fact sheet” provided to media and dated Feb. 22, 1:23am, showed that Philippine authorities would take punitive action against officials who were involved in wrongdoing in deporting the 14 Taiwanese, which Taipei would interpret as “a kind of apology.”
The conclusion was one of the seven points drawn up during 11 hours of negotiations between Minister of Foreign Affairs Timothy Yang (楊進添) and Roxas on Monday.
Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) and Yang both reiterated their call on Manila to apologize for the situation.
Asked at a press conference if the government would accept an apology by some Philippine officials for “negligence of duty” and regard it as a formal apology, Yang was noncommittal, only saying that it would depend on the results of an investigation into possible wrongdoing by the Philippine officials involved in the case.
“Some Philippine officials were involved in serious wrongdoing and engaged in deception in handling the case. We have demanded that an investigation be launched against those officials, and they have to apologize to us,” Yang said.
Yang called the press conference at 11am following Ma’s meeting with Roxas.
At about the same time that the press conference was being held, Wu told the legislature that the administration had not changed its position on demanding that the Philippines apologize.
“Minister Yang told the Philippines on Feb. 18 that they had to apologize to Taiwan if it sent a special envoy to Taiwan,” Wu said.