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Repair Philippines-Taiwan ties for OFWs -solon

MANILA, Philippines - A neophyte lawmaker on Monday urged the government to resume political and economic relations with Taiwan as 6,000 Filipino workers await their visas to work there.

OFW Family Club party-list Rep. Roy Señeres, a former ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, said that 80,000 more over Filipino workers (OFWs) rely on the two countries' relations after it had gone sour following the Philippine Coast Guard's fatal shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman off Batanes Islands last May 9.

The Taiwan government ordered a halt on the hiring of Filipinos in Taiwan in May 15, demanding for the Philippines to be held accountable over the incident.

"The country cannot afford to lose the Taiwan market by the dilly-dallying of the resolution of the crisis over the shooting incident," Señeres said in a statement.

He added that OFWs bore the brunt of the tension between the two countries, even without having anything to do with the incident.

"Every day that passes more and more Filipinas are returning from their three-year contracts after failing to get a renewal permit for them to be re-hired again by their Taiwanese employer," Señeres added.

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The lawmaker said that the country earns P200 million in emittances by OFWs in Taiwan.

"That translates to P 2.4 billion pesos a year loss remittances each year and 10,000 more added to the unemployed Filipinos," Señeres said, pertaining to those workers who have been hired by Taiwanese employers but whose visas have not been processed by the Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

A Taiwanese official, meanwhile, has said that the two countries are reaching the "final phase" of investigations on the shooting incident.

“Both sides are in the final phase of the mutual legal assistance process,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Anna Kao told the China's Central News Agency on Sunday.

The reports on the parallel probe have been completed, but have yet to be released by the two governments.

Department of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has said that the National Bureau of Investigation recommended in the report submitted to President Benigno Aquino III that criminal charges be filed against the involved Coast Guard personnel.

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