Immigration officials will visit places with large Philippine populations in the coming days to raise safety awareness amid the row between Taiwan and the Philippines, the National Immigration Agency (NIA) said yesterday.
The officials will go to popular gathering spots for Philippine nationals or factories that have many Philippine employees, the agency said, adding that the visits could start in New Taipei City (新北市) as soon as today.
“We will update them on the current situation, remind them to take safety precautions and provide them with contact information for the relevant authorities if they feel their safety is at risk,” said Kuo Wei-chi (郭韋齊), captain of the agency’s New Taipei City Specialized Operations Brigade.
Philippine nationals are advised to only go to public places in groups, keep a low profile, avoid conflict and call the police if they are harassed, the agency said.
The agency said it will also ask companies that employ Philippine nationals to protect the safety of their workers and enhance security at their places of residence.
There are about 90,000 Philippine nationals in Taiwan and 7,500 are married to Taiwanese, according to government statistics.
NIA Director-General Hsieh Li-kung (謝立功) last week called on the public to refrain from violent or irrational behavior toward Philippine nationals in Taiwan.
A diplomatic row was triggered by the killing of 65-year-old Taiwanese fisherman Hung Shih-cheng (洪石成) when a Philippine government patrol boat opened fire on his unarmed fishing vessel on May 9 in waters where the exclusive economic zones of the two countries overlap.
As tensions have risen, Taiwanese and Philippine media have reported that some Philippine nationals in Taiwan have been harassed or discriminated against.
The National Police Agency said yesterday that it had received three reports of Filipinos being attacked.
The most recent case involved several Taiwanese youths who attacked a Filipino at his dormitory and damaged property in the dormitory in Hsinchu County on Sunday.
However, the Hsinchu police said that one of the youths claimed that he assaulted the Filipino because he thought he was being laughed at, and that the attack was not incited by the dispute between Taiwan and the Philippines.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has also appealed to the public not to vent their anger at Filipinos living in the country.