In a move taken to protest Manila’s decision to deport 14 Taiwanese nationals to China, the Council of Labor Affairs announced new rules that would effectively impose a four-month freeze on Philippine national coming to Taiwan to work.
“Starting today, we are implementing stricter screening of applications for hiring new Philippine workers,” Council of Labor Affairs Minister Jennifer Wang (王如玄) said.
She said it would now take four months to screen applications for would-be Philippine workers, compared with a maximum of 12 days previously required.
The diplomatic row that sparked the move began when a joint China-Philippines anti-crime task force arrested 14 Taiwanese and 10 Chinese suspects in Manila in December on charges of cross-border fraud.
Ignoring Taipei’s request to repatriate the Taiwanese suspects to Taiwan, the Philippine government sent all the suspects to China, sparking outrage in Taipei.
Wang said the extension of the screening period was part of the council’s efforts to facilitate enforcement of the government’s foreign policy.
“We will do our utmost to minimize the adverse impact on local employers,” she said.
However, Wang said that if Manila fails to formally apologize for its action and does not take corrective measures, the council would not rule out the possibility of imposing a formal freeze on Philippine workers or adopting further sanctions.
There are about 77,000 migrant Philippine workers in Taiwan, who remit approximately US$600 million back home annually, government statistics show.
In addition to tightened screening of Philippine workers, Taiwan has also recalled its envoy to Manila and cancelled visa waiver privileges for some visitors from the Philippines.
The Manila Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei issued a statement on Monday, but it did not contain an apology for the decision to deport the Taiwanese to China.