Groups oppose plan to ban recruitment of Philippine workers

Staff writer, with CNA

Tue, May 14, 2013 - Page 3

Labor rights groups and manpower agencies have voiced their opposition to the government’s threat to suspend the hiring of Filipino workers over the shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman.

Meriam Hsu, a Filipino social worker with the Taiwan International Workers’ Association, told the Central News Agency yesterday that the government “should not target migrant workers” over the dispute because Filipino workers are not the ones at fault.

Norman Pinson, a 25-year-old Filipino worker and a member of KaSaPi — Kapulungan ng Samahang Pilipino (Association of Filipino Workers) — said on Sunday that he thought the threat to suspend new job applications was “unfair,” and he hoped that the rights of migrant workers would not be affected by the dispute between Manila and Taipei.

Though opposed to the government’s threat, members of KaSaPi — which was established in 2003 with the help of the Taiwan International Workers’ Association — launched a petition urging the Philippine government to respond to Taipei’s demands within the 72-hour deadline.

The association plans to bring the signatures they have collected to the Manila Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei before tomorrow, Hsu said.

Lorna Kung, general secretary of the Scalabrini International Migration Network-Taiwan, condemned the shooting of the fisherman and said Taiwan should be allowed to participate in the investigation into the incident.

However, she added that the case “has nothing to do with underprivileged laborers” and did not agree with using a freeze on Filipino workers to seek justice.

“It is true that Taiwan does not have much diplomatic leverage, but it should appeal to the international courts and the international media to pressure the Philippine government,” Kung said.

Angelo Tong, president of the Pilipino Manpower Agencies Accredited to Taiwan (PILMAT), told reporters on Sunday that he hoped the case would not affect the cultural and economic relations between the Philippines and Taiwan, especially the hiring of Filipino workers.

Tong called on the two sides to remain calm, hold dialogue and clarify what happened through a thorough investigation to prevent the occurrence of similar incidents.

PILMAT is a group of licensed Philippine manpower agencies accredited by the Republic of China government.

Relations between Taiwan and the Philippines are tense after a Philippine government vessel strafed a Taiwanese fishing boat in the two countries’ overlapping exclusive economic zones on Thursday last week, killing a 65-year-old Taiwanese fisherman.