The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday denied an opinion piece published in Manila that the Philippines has already declined to grant Republic of China passport holders visa-waiver privilege, saying the goal was still on the government’s agenda.
“The media report did not reflect the stance of the Philippine government,” James Chou (周穎華), deputy director-general of the ministry’s Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, told a routine news briefing yesterday.
Chou was responding to an article by Rina Jimenez-David, a Filipino journalist, which was published in the opinion section of the Philippine Daily Inquirer on June 14.
Jimenez-David said the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) “is formally rejecting the Taiwanese appeal, arguing that granting visa-free entry to Taiwanese would necessitate granting the same right to Mainland Chinese.”
She said MECO officials had said granting Taiwan visa-waiver status “would open the door to Taiwanese and Chinese drug and human-smuggling syndicates” and that “even with current visa requirements, our media are already full of stories about Chinese drug rings, prostitution rings and illegal entrants.”
“This is not to mention the rampant smuggling of illegal and fake drugs, and unsafe products ranging from skin-whitening creams to ‘double-dead’ poultry,” she wrote.
Jimenez-David decried Representative to the Philippines Raymond Wang (王樂生) for being “boorish” and “overbearing” in lobbying for visa-waiver status, saying that Wang “appears to lack the necessary diplomatic experience and cultural sensitivity.”
Chou said the MECO apologized for the article having been placed with news articles on its Web site for several days. The article was removed on Monday night, Chou said.
Late last night, the MECO issued a statement saying the views expressed in the article and another one by the same author on June 19 “are that of the writer.”
The statement said MECO has no power to grant or reject visa waiver treatment for Taiwan, as the responsibility and authority to consider these matters lay with the office of the president and other executive agencies.
MECO said the comment about Wang was “unfortunate” and it is reviewing Web site policies to ensure that such misunderstandings will not occur again.
The statement said the MECO and Taipei Economic and Culture Office in the Philippines continue to cooperate closely in many activities beneficial to both Taiwan and the Philippines, including the protection of their citizens.
“For example, there are ongoing discussions on cooperation on mutual legal assistance and combating trans-national crime,” MECO said.