[Premier Jiang Yi-huah speaks while holding a picture showing the number of gun holes in a fishing vessel after it was assaulted by the Philippine coastguard, killing a Taiwanese fisherman, during a press conference in Taipei on May 15, 2013. AFP PHOTO / Mandy Cheng]

DAGUPAN CITY , MAY 20, 2013 (INQUIRER) By Yolanda Sotelo Inquirer Northern Luzon - Filipinos have been refused service in restaurants and supermarkets, as tensions continue to rise over the killing of a Taiwanese fisherman by the Philippine Coast Guard in the Balintang Channel last week, said Amadito Perez Jr., chair of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (Meco).

Many such cases have occurred in the hometown of Hung Shih-cheng in Taiwan, he told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in a telephone interview from Taipei.

“We have received numerous reports of harassment, particularly from Kaoshiung City, where the slain fisherman resided. Emotions are running high there and you can feel the animosity toward the overseas Filipino workers,” he said. “Some restaurants refuse to serve food to Filipinos and some supermarkets won’t let Filipinos inside to buy groceries. They (Taiwanese) cast angry glances at Filipinos. I advised them to just buy from the markets and not to wander around, to stay at home if they have nothing important to do outside.”

The Meco is verifying these reports, including claims that some migrant workers were beaten up by Taiwanese residents, he said.

“The situation is tense. The Filipinos are afraid to lose their jobs. I advised them to stay calm and never to retaliate no matter the provocation,” Perez said.

There are 90,000 Filipino workers in Taiwan, 10 percent of whom are domestic workers.

Perez said he was informed of factories that have put out news releases threatening to terminate the contracts of Filipino workers because of the death of Taiwanese fisherman Hung Shih-cheng.

But the factories that issued the threats did not come from the electronic sector, which employs 25,000 Filipinos, he said.

“We have good workers in the electronic sector. The Taiwanese cannot just fire them or their electronics sector would be paralyzed. But there are factories in other sectors that may send our workers back home,” he said.

The Taiwanese government has stopped issuing working visas to Filipinos and has advised tour agencies to cancel tours to the Philippines, he said.

Taiwanese tourists rank fifth on a list of top foreign tourists who frequent the Philippines.

The Meco was ready to evacuate Filipino workers if needed, “but we are proceeding with caution,” Perez said.

He admitted he was not spared from the prejudice. He said when he tried to check in at a Taiwanese hotel, he was informed that there was no vacant room.

“There was a small hotel that accepted us. But they told us later they could not accommodate us because of the many reporters outside the hotel and the guests were complaining of being disturbed,” he said.

Local reporters have been hounding Perez there since the incident happened.


Noynoying on Taiwan By Jojo Robles | Posted on May. 17, 2013 at 12:01am | 2,945 views 

This is why we need a president who will not think that his only job is to campaign for his candidates. And a president who will listen to advice and counsel from his own diplomats when it comes to foreign relations, an important part of the job that the current palace occupant knows next to nothing about.

While nearly the entire government and the citizenry are still obsessing about the results (or lack thereof) of last Monday’s elections, our neighbor to the north, Taiwan, seems hell bent on escalating tensions across the water. And Taiwan seems to have found an unlikely ally in China, which castigated its old nemesis President Noynoy Aquino and all of the Philippines for being “the most barbaric country in Southeast Asia” in state-controlled Chinese media.

Taiwan has recalled its quasi-ambassador after rejecting a belated apology from the Aquino government. The island-nation has announced that it will start naval exercises in the waters between the two countries; the tens of thousands of Filipino workers in Taiwan are also in grave danger of losing their livelihood.

How did our normally cordial relations with Taiwan suddenly turn cold? And what can Aquino do to mend fences with the irate Taiwanese, who have been whipped into a frenzy after the killing by the Philippine Coast Guard of a single fisherman?

At this point, it seems that there is precious little that the Manila government can do except accede to the demands of the Taiwanese for compensation and a more sincere apology. Because Aquino was monomaniacally focused on the elections, he simply failed to appreciate the importance of Taiwan’s actions.

Again, like the bungling of the Rizal Park massacre three years ago, this is not a failure of the entire country but only of the people who govern it. This is why it is so unfair, especially for those Filipinos who are quietly and productively working in Taiwan, to suffer for the idiocy of their government.

But Taiwan had also been spoiling for a fight with Manila for the longest time. It was this administration, after all, which ignored Taiwan’s request to extradite some of its nationals arrested in the Philippines for allegedly defrauding a handful of rich mainlanders; after Manila deported the Taiwanese to China instead (in a futile attempt, it now turns out) to mollify the Chinese, our relations with Taiwan were never the same.

Of course, it’s also been said that the current Taiwanese government of President Ma Jing-yeou is looking for some diversionary issue abroad and is milking the fisherman’s death for all it’s worth, to deflect attention from its own political straits. Still, if the Manila government did not dilly-dally right after the Taiwanese’s killing and had taken seriously the 72-hour deadline given by Ma for Aquino to explain the killing and apologize, our relations with Taiwan would surely not have deteriorated as fast as they did.

* * *

While Aquino was definitely guilty of noynoying on Taiwan, he has also been let down by his foreign secretary, Albert del Rosario. The secretary appears not to have tried hard enough to convince his boss that working to fix our ties with the Taiwanese was at least as important as ensuring that his candidates won.

That Del Rosario seems very much afraid of Aquino and only too willing to humor his every mistaken move on the foreign affairs front was already proven in the recent crisis in Sabah. Del Rosario simply vanished from view when the soldiers of the Sultanate of Sulu started occupying parts of the Malaysian border state, deferring instead to Local Secretary Mar Roxas —who probably knows even less than Aquino when it comes to diplomacy —the President’s designated one-man foreign affairs department.

(Speaking of Roxas, why hasn’t he come out in defense of the Filipinos in Taiwan who may lose their jobs? Wasn’t that the reason Roxas incessantly gave for bending over backwards to the Malaysians, even after they started killing Filipinos in Sabah?)

And now there’s this Taiwan problem that has Aquino once more paralyzed into inaction, after his inaction aggravated a tense situation that could have been quickly defused, had he given enough attention to it from the very beginning. The Philippines has now earned the ire of all of its immediate neighbors, from China in the west to Malaysia in the south to Taiwan in the north; if our next-door neighbor to the east had not been relatively distant Guam, I’m sure Aquino would have found a way to make its inhabitants mad at the Philippines, as well.

Of course, Guam is a United States territory, and if Aquino has good relations with another country, it is with the US. But it’s sad that Aquino cannot run to the US to rescue him from the Taiwanese, since Taiwan is probably an even more important ally to Washington compared to the Philippines these days in this neck of the woods.

Halfway into his term, Aquino seems to have laid to waste all the hard work put in for decades by all the Philippine administrations and diplomats who went before him. I truly pity the next President, who will virtually have to start from scratch as far as foreign relations is concerned —all because his predecessor didn’t care about our neighbors and the trouble he could get us all into by ignoring them.

Taiwan gears for ‘war’ vs PH By Joyce Pangco Panares | Posted on May. 18, 2013 at 12:01am | 13,847 views

All Taipei agencies told to ‘stand firm’

[Hotter and hotter. Former police officer Abner Afuang burns a Taiwanese flag in
Lawton, Manila, to protest Taiwan’s moves against the Philippines. Danny Pata]

TAIWAN’S premier told his countrymen to “prepare for a prolonged ‘war’” against the Philippines, saying that the 11 sanctions imposed against Manila for the shooting death of a Taiwanese fisherman last week would most likely be for the long term, the Taipei Times reported Friday.

At a Cabinet meeting, Premier Jiang Yi-huah issued a directive about a slew of punitive measures and said all agencies must “stand firm,” the newspaper said.

Taipei has rejected several attempts by the Aquino administration to apologize over the incident as insincere, and demanded an official apology, compensation for the fisherman’s family, punishment for the guilty and bilateral talks over a fisheries agreement to avoid similar incidents.

But Jiang said there was no sign that the Philippines would give in to these demands, and said Cabinet members should “mentally prepare” themselves for upholding the sanctions for a long time.

He also said “a new stage of sanctions” might be imposed if it were deemed necessary, including the possibility of cutting air travel connections with the Philippines.

Taiwan’s Civil Aeronautics Administration said it had decided to put on hold a meeting to discuss amendments to an aviation pact with Manila.

President Ma Ying-jeou on Friday described the May 9 killing of Hung Shih-cheng, 65,by the Coast Guard as “cold-blooded murder” while the Foreign Ministry objected to attempts by Manila to portray the fisherman as the culprit in the incident.

Speaking with members of the International Law Association, Ma said international maritime law only allowed governments to inspect ships and to make arrests, but not to open fire against unarmed fishermen, Taiwan News reported.

Aquino administration officials have insisted that Hung was killed in a police action against poachers in Philippine waters, and that the Taiwanese vessel had tried to ram the Coast Guard ship.

A team of investigators which traveled from Taiwan to Manila Thursday was refused permission to work on the case, further angering Taipei.

As Taipei ramped up its anti-Filipino rhetoric, the Philippine envoy to the island state advised thousands of Filipino workers there to eat at home and avoid the streets as emotions run high over last week’s shooting death.

Amadeo Perez, chairman of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office and President Benigno Aquino III’s personal envoy, said Thursday after returning from Taipei that the government has verified at least one attack, in which a Filipino was beaten with a bat. Perez said Taiwanese police were investigating.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda appealed to Taiwanese not to harass Filipino workers or tourists in Taipei.

“We appeal to the people of Taiwan, if the reports are true, not to involve our Filipino nationals there,” Lacierda said.

“We appeal for calm. We appeal for sobriety on this unfortunate incident. Let us not involve our Filipino compatriots there. They are there working and they are there working for an honest living. So we ask them not to involve our Filipino citizens,” he said.

Taiwan’s Central News Agency said President Ma on Thursday urged the Taiwanese people not to vent their anger on Filipino workers living in the country because he said the government of the Philippines is the one who should be held responsible.

Ma said on his Facebook page that he was unwilling to see conflict occur between people from the two countries and that Taiwanese people should treat Filipino workers rationally. Just as the Taiwanese fishermen were trying to make a living and support their families, the migrant workers from the Philippines were doing the same thing in the island, Ma said.

Taiwan’s sanctions against the Philippines include an immediate ban on the recruitment of Filipino workers, the recall of Taiwanese representative in Manila Raymond Wang and an order to Philippine envoy in Taipei Antonio Basilio to return home.

Taiwan has also imposed a red-alert travel advisory for the Philippines, removed the country from its visa-waiver program, suspended high-level exchanges and cooperation in several domains, including fishing, science and technology, and aviation negotiations.

Taiwan’s Navy, Coast Guard Administration and Air Force also held a day of joint maneuvers in waters close to the Philippines on Thursday.

Talks to expand air travel between the two countries were suspended Friday.

The Aquino administration on Friday said it has identified three alternative markets for overseas Filipino workers who may be displaced by Taiwan’s hiring ban.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said this is part of the contingency measures being prepared by the government.

“In light of what has happened, the Labor Department has deemed if fit to look into other alternative markets that are capable of absorbing the number of [overseas workers] who may wish to come back or who may have to leave their places of employment in Taiwan,” Valte said.

Government records show there are 85,185 Filipino workers in Taiwan, 72 percent of whom work in the manufacturing sector. Some 26 percent provide personal and social services, while 2 percent work in the fisheries industry.

Valte said the government is looking at South Korea, the Middle East, and Malaysia as alternative markets for these workers.

In an interview with the South China Morning Post, former Philippine permanent representative to the United Nations Lauro Baja said Taiwan was overreacting.

“With their entity being a province of China, giving sanctions and refusing to receive the representative of the president, what is that? Sometimes I feel we have these things coming to us because of our very timid diplomacy,” Baja said.

“A former chairman of the congressional committee on foreign affairs earlier said that Taipei is using Hung’s death as a basis for making tough demands that will force the Philippines to violate its One-China policy.

“Taiwan saw an opportunity to push for recognition as a country instead of just an economic state. Taiwan is pushing us to violate the One-China policy,” former Negros Occidental representative Apolinario Lozada said.

Lozada said Mr. Aquino should consider sending former President Fidel Ramos to Taiwan as his special envoy.

“It will be a win-win solution. The former president, because of his stature, cannot be rejected by Taiwan. And since he is already a private citizen, we will not be violating the One-China policy,” Lozada said.

Valte said the suggestion will still have to be discussed with the President.

The Justice Department on Friday said the Taiwanese investigators would be allowed to conduct a parallel investigation but would not have direct access to or be allowed to question Philippine Coast Guard personnel.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima also ruled out a joint probe and the direct questioning by the Taiwanese of the Coast Guard team involved in the shooting.

“We can’t just allow foreign investigators to question directly our own men. It’s a question of sovereignty. It’s a question of propriety,” De Lima said.

She also said a joint investigation was out of the question because the National Bureau of Investigation was already wrapping up its probe.

NBI Director Caesar Nonnatus Rojas said they have given the incident the “highest priority” and assured the public that their findings would be based purely on evidence.

At the press conference, Rojas presented a total of 15 long firearms—8 M16 rifles, 6 M14 rifles and a Browning machine gun — which were surrendered to them by the Coast Guard.

He said all the guns will undergo ballistic examination and that the bureau was taking statements of the crew members involved in the shooting. With Macon Ramos-Araneta, AP, Bloomberg

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved