The Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) is ready to implement a freeze on Filipino workers if the Ministry of Foreign Affairs decides to go with this policy, Council of Labor Affairs Minister Jennifer Wang (王如玄) said yesterday.
“As long as the foreign ministry is certain on adopting more -stringent measures against the Philippines, the council will be ready for related measures to freeze Filipino laborers,” Wang said.
“The council has also obtained a consensus from the industrial sector and received its support. We can take action at any time,” she added.
About 77,000 Filipinos are working in Taiwan, accounting for 20 percent of the total number of foreign workers in the country. Most of them are employed in the manufacturing sector.
If an across-the-board freeze on Filipino workers is implemented, “it would take about three years for current Filipino workers to leave Taiwan,” except for a few left in the country for humanitarian -reasons, Wang said.
According to the minister, these reasons could include Taiwanese who are physically or mentally disabled and are wholly dependent on their Filipino caretakers.
Wang made the remarks against a background of frayed relations with the Philippines after 14 Taiwanese fraud suspects were deported from the Philippines to China on Feb. 2.
A Philippine emissary arrived on Monday to mend fences over the deportation row, but left the following day without making the apology Taiwan had requested. The envoy only promised a probe into the incident and to discipline any officials found to have acted out of line.
On Wednesday, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III still expressed optimism that the rift could be resolved without a formal apology.
However, he also maintained that Filipino workers could work in other countries or stay in their own country.
Wang said that the foreign ministry was watching applications from Filipino workers, and that if it implements the freeze, the move the Philippines will definitely “feel the pain.” She said the Filipino emissary came earlier this week because of this.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Timothy Yang (楊進添) reiterated yesterday that he would wait for the results of the Philippine probe into the incident before deciding on the ministry’s next move.