Taipei and Manila sign pact on legal assistance

Staff writer, with CNA, Manila

Sat, Apr 20, 2013 - Page 3

Taiwan and the Philippines yesterday inked a legal assistance pact after nearly two years of coordination and consultations.

The agreement on legal assistance in criminal matters was signed by Representative to the Philippines Raymond Wang (王樂生) and Philippine Representative to Taiwan Antonio Basilio at the Ministry of Justice in Taipei.

Deputy Minister of Justice Wu Chen-huan (吳陳鐶) and Ricardo Paras III, chief state counsel of the Philippine Department of Justice, witnessed the signing ceremony.

It is the first legal assistance pact signed between the two nations.

Under the agreement, the two sides will help identify, search, detain and repatriate suspects, obtain testimony and evidence, identify criminal gains and tools, and provide mutual assistance related to judicial procedure, such as testimony via video conference.

The Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines and its counterpart, the Manila Economic and Cultural Office in Taiwan, said the agreement would protect the safety and judicial interests of Taiwanese in the Philippines and nearly 100,000 Filipino workers in Taiwan.

Taiwan and the Philippines started to negotiate the agreement after an incident in February 2011 in which 14 Taiwanese involved in a fraud scheme in the Philippines were deported to China rather than Taiwan.

In an effort to mend fences after the incident, both sides agreed on the need to establish a legal assistance mechanism and step up economic cooperation.