Filipinos in Taiwan keep low profile

Updated: 2013-05-18 08:05

(Agencies/China Daily)

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The Philippines' special envoy to Taiwan on Friday advised thousands of Filipino workers there to eat at home and avoid the streets while emotions run high over the shooting death of a Taiwan fisherman by the Philippine coast guard.

Amadeo Perez, chairman of Taiwan's Manila Economic and Cultural Office, said after returning to Manila from Taipei late on Thursday that his government has verified at least one attack, in which a Filipino was beaten with a bat.

"He was brought to a hospital, and police are investigating. We are documenting the cases," Perez said.

Taiwan has frozen the hiring of Filipino workers, cut trade exchanges and discouraged travel to the Philippines because of the fisherman's death, while brushing aside an apology from the Philippine president as insufficient.

Jiang Yi-huah, chief of Taiwan's executive body, said on Thursday that Taiwan, noting Manila's responses, is prepared to impose lasting sanctions on the Philippines.

Reports said further sanctions may include the repatriation of the Filipino workers in Taiwan, capital withdrawal from Taiwan companies in the Philippines, and the suspension of aviation between the two sides.

At a news conference on Friday, Taiwan's chief of foreign affairs, David Lin, disputed Manila's claim that the incident involved "legitimate defense", saying the shooting was a serious violation of international law.

Perez said that Taiwan people are emotional at this time and tension is high.

"We advised Filipinos there not to leave home as much as possible. Eat your meals at home, and just commute directly between home and work for now," he added.

Nearly 87,000 Filipinos work in Taiwan, representing a fraction of the roughly 10 million who work abroad to escape poverty and unemployment at home.

Manila said on Thursday that the Philippines has come up with emergency programs to cope with Taiwan's sanctions.

Philippine Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said that the present priority is to arrange for the many Filipinos that intended to work in Taiwan to get jobs in other markets, while taking measures not to intensify the situation.

Taipei is insisting on an official apology, compensation, investigation, punishment and negotiations on a fishing agreement, while rejecting the previous apology from Antonio Basilio, Manila's representative in Taiwan, as well as an apology letter from Philippine President Benigno Aquino III that Perez delivered.

Despite aroused public sentiment, Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou asked residents to stick to the facts and to behave appropriately with Filipinos currently in Taiwan.

Filipino workers in Taiwan who were interviewed by Manila radio stations complained that some shops refused to sell them goods, and restaurants would not serve them. A Taiwan company that employs Filipinos printed a memo advising them to avoid fishing villages.

The circumstances behind the May 9 shooting of the fishermen remain in dispute, though the Philippines acknowledges that its coast guard opened fire on a fishing boat from Taiwan. Manila said the action was taken in self-defense to prevent the Taiwan boat from ramming the coast guard vessel, but the fishermen deny the ramming claim.

Fourteen police investigators from Taipei are in Manila, and Philippine investigators will ask Taiwan authorities for permission to inspect the fishing boat and interview the crew.

But the Philippine's justice secretary, Leila de Lima, denied on Thursday the possibility of a joint investigation with Taipei.

China Daily-AP