Taiwan freezes hiring of PH workers - report
MANILA, Philippines - Taiwan has stopped issuing work visas to Filipinos Tuesday, May 14, in the wake of the diplomatic spat over the killing of a Taiwanese fisherman by the Philippine Coast Guard.
The Taipei Economic Cooperation Office (TECO), the country's de facto embassy in the Philippines, confirmed that they stopped issuing working visas, but not visitors' visas, Interaksyon.com reported.
Interaksyon.com also reported that Antonio Basilio, head of the Manila Economic Cooperation Office (MECO) in Taipei, was back in Manila Monday, May 13, but will return Tuesday evening to "deliver a proper apology" to Taiwan.
Taiwan on Saturday, May 11, issued a 72-hour ultimatum demanding the Philippines respond to Taiwan's requests over the death of 65-year-old fisherman Hung Shih-cheng, who died after the PCG fired upon his boat when it allegedly crossed over into Philippine territory May 9.
Angry Taiwanese have protested infront of the MECO Monday, burning Philippine flags and demanding that the Philippine government apologize for the incident and compensate the victim's family.
President Benigno Aquino III appealed for calm as tensions escalated in the wake of the incident, saying that the MECO was already in talks with the foreign ministry of Taiwan.
The victim's son, who was with his father and two other sailors on the boat at the time, has insisted they did not cross into Philippine waters.
Prosecutor Liu Chia-kai described the incident as "nothing but a slaughter," after examining the boat after it was towed back from sea.
Taiwan's government has come under pressure from the opposition and the media to take action.
There are about 87,000 Philippine domestic helpers and other workers in Taiwan, who send home hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
Taiwan at the weekend sent four coastguard and naval vessels to protect its fishermen in waters near the Philippines.
Basilio had visited the family of the fisherman and "extended condolences and apologies".
Aquino said he did not want to comment further, preferring to let diplomats handle the dispute.
"If we comment on that (at the presidential) level, we guarantee the issue will escalate," Aquino said.
The incident comes at a time of heightened tensions around the region over rival claims to the nearby South China Sea.
China, the Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei all have competing claims to parts of the sea.
Taiwan has ruled itself since 1949, but China still considers the island part of its territory. The Philippines, like most countries, officially recognizes China over Taiwan but maintains trade ties with the island. - Rappler.com, with the Agence France-Presse