, FEBRUARY 13, 2011 (STAR) By Aurea Calica - The government is prepared to undertake diplomatic measures to appease Taiwan, and is confident that its explanation on the deportation of 14 Taiwanese to China will be accepted.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the government would also implement mitigating measures to address the concerns of Filipino workers in Taiwan affected by the issue.

Taiwan recalled its de facto ambassador to the Philippines, Donald Lee, following what it considered an “inhumane” deportation of its “citizens” to China.

Taiwan also extended the screening process for Filipino workers from 12 days to four months, and withdrew the waiver of visa application to Taiwan for Filipinos holding visas to the United States, Japan and European Union member countries.

President Aquino earlier said an emissary would be dispatched to Taiwan to explain the deportation, but a representative has not been appointed yet.

The Department of Justice said it is up to China and Taiwan to resolve the issue involving their citizens and there is no need for Manila to apologize over the incident.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said it must be explained to Taiwan that the deportation was done primarily “in our national interest.”

“We have to protect our people from activities of these undesirable aliens who have been making our country their haven,” she said.

De Lima also said the government will comply with the order of the Court of Appeals to explain why it proceeded with the deportation while the habeas corpus petition of the Taiwanese was being heard.

Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada said the government should immediately initiate high-level dialogues with Taiwan to resolve the misunderstanding.

He said he was assured by the Labor department that it is looking after Filipino workers in Taiwan. – With Marvin Sy

Noy at 51: Gains from reforms starting to be felt By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) Updated February 09, 2011 12:00 AM 

President Aquino celebrated his 51st birthday yesterday, emphasizing that the gains of his government’s efforts to improve the lives of the people were already being felt sooner than expected, and for that he felt blessed.

Aquino reiterated his wish that the “betterment of our people’s lives will be attained at a faster pace (than) what we have so far managed to achieve.”

The President said he did not get himself any gifts and that his goal was transformation of society. He stressed that a much bigger reason to celebrate would be the achievement of all his goals for the country the soonest possible time.

“At this time, I felt blessed because if you can recall, we were projecting that it might take two years before we feel the changes,” he said.

He, however, noted that on the economic front, a lot of opportunities were already existing and many would still come in.

Aquino cited the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry. He said concerned government agencies were working to increase the number of passers among applicants.

“So once that is in full swing, then I guess our rightful place to be number one as far as the BPO industry is concerned will happen,” he said.

The President said he received some gifts but had not yet opened any and could not say which one was best.

But he said the messages were heartwarming, especially those from people he had not been in touch with for quite a while. – With Delon Porcalla, Evelyn Macairan, Sandy Araneta

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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