Tue, Feb 15, 2011 - Page 3 News List

DPP talks tough over Philippines spat

FREEZE:DPP lawmakers called for a full ban on hiring Filipino workers, while KMT legislators said broader, more ‘appropriate’ measures should be considered

By Vincent Y. Chao  /  Staff Reporter

Although Taipei is still awaiting an apology from Manila after Philippine authorities extradited 14 Taiwanese fraud suspects to China, Manila does not appear willing to make such a gesture, despite saying it could name an emissary to settle the dispute, reports said.

Philippine news sources said Philippine President Benigno Aquino III could send an emissary to Taiwan to explain why the 14 Taiwanese were deported along with 10 Chinese suspects despite protests from the Taiwanese representative to Manila.

The emissary, which reports said would not be dispatched in an official capacity, would “discuss with them [the Taiwanese government] particular issues and explain why we decided the way we decided,” the Philippine Star reported Aquino as saying.

Manila has said the 14 were sent to China because they were arrested as part of an international fraud ring targeting Chinese. A Philippine presidential spokesman also cited an obligation to abide by Manila’s “one China” policy and to safeguard “national interests.”

The Philippines has rejected demands for an apology from Representative to Manila Donald Lee (李傳通), who had tried to stop the deportations, but was prevented from meeting with the Taiwanese suspects. Lee has since been recalled to Taiwan, as part of the deepening diplomatic spat.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators have discussed enacting harsher penalties on Filipinos seeking work in Taiwan. Taipei announced limited measures on Monday last week that could include a complete ban on new Filipino domestic helpers, who already number 80,000.

Last week Taiwan also tightened visa regulations for Filipinos aiming to work in Taiwan and canceled visa privileges for some Filipinos. Philippine officials have confirmed that issuing new visas will now take up to four months, when it only took 12 days previously.

The DPP caucus told the legislature yesterday it would likely call on the Council of Labor Affairs to impose a full ban if Manila does not issue an official apology, adding that the move was necessary to avoid other countries following suit.

“This is unacceptable,” DPP caucus secretary-general Wong Chin-chu (翁金珠) said of the deportation. “Taiwan and China cannot be treated as parts of the same country internationally. Taiwan’s international affairs should not be seen as cross-strait affairs.”

Without an apology, “there’s no need [for Manila] to send an emissary,” she said.

Over the weekend, Chinese -Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers agreed that putting a temporary freeze on the new hiring of Filipino domestic helpers could be an option, but added that it would have to be a part of a larger package of “appropriate measures.”

“Both countries will still have to work and cooperate with one another,” KMT Legislator Hsieh Kuo-liang (謝國樑) said. “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs needs to think this through carefully.”

Taiwanese officials have hinted in recent days at the possibility of a second wave of punitive actions against the Philippines, but have not issued specific details. Ministry spokesman James Chang (章計平) has said further action would be taken if the Philippines did not “recognize its wrongdoing in the matter.”

Edwin Lacierda, a Philippine presidential spokesperson, told the Star that the deportations occurred because the country didn’t want to become “a haven for international crime syndicates,” adding that the action was “proper for us to do.”

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