'Sending emissary to Taiwan won't violate one-China policy'

- Delon Porcalla () - February 14, 2011 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines -  Malacañang maintained yesterday that President Aquino’s intention to send an emissary to Taiwan is not an affront to China in violation of the one-China policy.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte clarified the government did not send any official from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to Taiwan to represent the government.

Valte said any representation to Taiwan will not be done in an official capacity.

“It’s a trade and tourism issue as well. It is better that we explain the situation (to Taiwan) since many Filipinos are working there,” she said.

Valte said there around 80,000 Filipinos working in Taiwan.

The Philippine government maintained that there is no need to apologize over its decision to deport 14 Taiwanese to China, although the President hinted that he will be sending an emissary to Taipei if only to enlighten the circumstances around the issue.

“I might be sending an emissary to discuss with them (Taiwanese government) particular issues and to explain why we decided the way we decided,” Aquino said.

Aquino said he has designated the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) headed by Amadeo Perez to handle the issue.

“So, can we just wait for the emissary, who would be sent and who is subject to the restrictions imposed by our laws?” he asked.

In retaliation to the deportation, the government of Taiwan has started hiring workers from Thailand and Indonesia to replace Filipinos working there.

The Taiwan government even made it hard and tedious for Filipinos wanting to work there.

Malacañang stood pat on its decision not to issue any apology to the Taiwan government for deporting 14 Taiwanese nationals to the mainland, insisting the government does not want the Philippines to be a haven for international crime syndicates.

“We have maintained our position that the reason why we have deported to the People’s Republic (of China) was because we do not wish to be a haven of international crime syndicates here in the Philippines,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.

“The evidence is in China, the crime was committed in China, so it was in our best interest, in our national interest to deport them to China,” Lacierda said, setting aside threats of the Taiwanese government to freeze hiring of Filipino workers.

“We respect their decision. We understand where they’re coming from,” Lacierda added.

He said the issue would be best discussed between the MECO and the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office.

“We have asked MECO to make representations with TECO, with the Taiwan government regarding this matter. We hope that this will not escalate to further strain the relationship between MECO and TECO,” he said.

Lacierda said the deported Taiwanese were members of an international crime ring.

“So, on that basis and based on the evidence presented, again, based on our national interest, we did what was proper for us to do,” he said.

Lacierda reiterated that the government’s move to deport the erring Taiwanese nationals was in the country’s “national interest.” 

Show more goodwill

The China Post reported the Philippine government made an inaccurate statement in explaining its decision to deport 14 Taiwanese nationals to China last week.

The report said the Philippine classification of the 14 Taiwanese suspects in a fraud case, as “undocumented” was inaccurate.

The report quoted Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman James Chang as saying that the passports of the 14 Taiwanese and the 10 mainland Chinese had been confiscated and Taiwan’s representative office in Manila provided the authorities with new identification documents.

“We are considering taking further action against the Philippines if it does not recognize its wrongdoing in the incident,” Chang said but did not elaborate.

Furthermore, the case should have been handled based on the Philippines’ domestic laws rather than its one-China policy, Chang said in the statement from China Post.

The issue escalated during the past week as officials from the Philippines and Taiwan exchanged opposing views over the deportation.

The Taiwan envoy to Manila, Donald Lee of TECO, left the country Friday after he was recalled due to the issue.

Chang, in a statement at the China Post, said Philippine Justice Secretary Leila de Lima had admitted to Lee that certain actions by the Bureau of Immigration before the deportation had been “regrettable.”

In response, Taiwan expects the Philippines to show “more goodwill” to resolve the diplomatic stalemate, Chang said.

According to Chang, Taiwan will continue to plan its moves based on the Philippine government’s actions.

On the other hand, De Lima said the government’s concern now is how to appease Taiwan.

“The government should take steps through diplomatic channels - perhaps including possibility of sending an emissary - to mitigate the effects,” she said.

“We can also tap our MECO to handle the situation. Taiwan must be made to understand that the deportation was done primarily “in our national interest and we have to protect our people from the activities of these undesirable aliens who have been making (the country) their haven,” De Lima said.

A local contingent of Filipino government officials headed by MECO chairman Amadeo Perez Jr. will head to Taiwan this week for a meeting with Timothy Chin Tien Yang of the Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The group will appeal to the Taiwanese government to reconsider the hiring ban on Filipino workers.

Perez clarified the trip to Taiwan is different from the emissary that will be sent by President Aquino.

“I think the President should send a private individual and not a government official,” he said.

Perez said they would ask Taiwan not to lay off the Filipino workers and accept more. Perez said they have received information from TECO that the processing of visa for Filipinos will take four months. Before the process only took 12 days.

“This is Taiwan’s way of indirectly saying that they will no longer hire Filipinos,” Perez said.

Perez said he has already written a letter of apology to Yang since TECO representative Lee was not allowed to meet with the deported Taiwanese nationals before they were sent to China.

At the same time, Perez assured Taiwan that the Philippine government is investigating the issue.

“I have initiated moves to have these matters fully investigated by the appropriate Philippine government agency,” Perez said in his letter to Yang. – With Rudy Santos, Elisa Osorio

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