Taiwan eyeing more Filipino workers, mulls residency offer

Pia Lee-Brago - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The possibility of hiring more Filipino workers in Taiwan and allowing them to stay longer and apply for permanent residency is under discussion, Taiwan’s foreign minister said.

In an interview yesterday with The STAR, Minister Joseph Wu said the Taiwanese government has been discussing the possibility to allow Filipino migrant workers in Taiwan to be able to stay for a longer period of time.

“The discussion has been underway for some time. And they might even be able to apply for permanent residency here in Taiwan. That’s under discussion but I won’t be able to give you the details before decisions are made,” he added.

According to Wu, the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Taiwan have become an “integral part of Taiwanese society and their presence in Taiwan is appreciated.”

However, extending the visa exemption program for Filipinos faces difficulty if the Philippine government does not reciprocate the visa program, Taiwan’s foreign minister said.

“There’s always some discussion on this issue. It makes it difficult for the government decision makers to extend the visa exemption status if the Philippines doesn’t grant Taiwan electronic visa or visa waiver status or landing visa, these kinds of conveniences,” Wu said.

“It’s our hope that the Philippine government, especially the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, can consider visa exemption status for the Taiwanese travelers going to the Philippines as well,” Wu said.

“If the Philippine government can do that, I’m sure it’ll make it so much more convenient and easy for Taiwan to consider the extension of visa,” he added.

The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Manila said Taiwan is set to reevaluate its visa-free entry privilege for Philippine passport holders as the program expires on July 31.

The visa-exempt entry scheme for Filipinos resumed on Sept. 29, 2022 and will be in place until July 31, 2023.

In April, Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian advised the Philippines to unequivocally oppose Taiwan independence if it cared about the OFWs there.

The ambassador warned that the Philippines is “stoking the fire by offering the United States access to the military base near the Taiwan Strait.”

China expressed concern and strong disapproval of a joint Philippines-US statement against Beijing’s activities in the South China Sea and the swift operationalization of four new Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement sites, warning that “pandering” to forces outside the region could backfire on Manila.

However, the Chinese embassy in Manila said Huang’s remarks about OFWs in Taiwan were misquoted, misunderstood or taken out of context.

The Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) gave assurance that the remarks of China’s top diplomat in the Philippines against supporting Taiwan were not a cause of concern as the situation remained “very normal” and the OFWs’ welfare and interest are “well-protected.”

According to MECO, there are around 200,000 OFWs in Taiwan.

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