MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Jejomar Binay on Saturday, May 18, appealed to the Taiwanese people to “spare overseas Filipino workers from conflict” as tensions rise between Taiwan and the Philippines over the death of a Taiwanese fisherman last May 9.
“We are appealing to the Taiwanese people to spare our Overseas Filipino Workers from conflict,” Binay told reporters at the sidelines of a medical event at the Manila Hotel Saturday.
“We heard and we read in the papers that they have been hit with bats and four have been hospitalized,” Binay, who is also President Aquino’s adviser on migrant workers’ affairs, said.
“Of course we deeply regret what happened. We deeply regret [it]. But the matter is still being being investigated,” he said, referring to the death of a Taiwanese fisherman after being shot at by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) last May 9.
The PCG insists the 65-year-old fisherman was shot at after his fishing vessel allegedly trespassed into Philippine waters.
The incident has caused tensions to rise between the Philippines and Taiwan.
The Philippine government, through MECO, has already conveyed its sincere apologies over the tragic incident but the Taiwanese government still sanctioned and ban the hiring of new workers from the Philippines.
On Thursday, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said that that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has been conducting its own investigation over the “unfortunate” incident and should not be subject to any interference.
‘This should stop’
The International Migrants Alliance (IMA) also urged Taiwan to protect Filipino workers on the island, whom the Hong Kong-based group described as “innocent.”
Eni Lestari, the Indonesian chief of IMA said they received reports of harassment and discrimination against Filipinos in Taiwan.
“This should stop. No physical attack or any act of racist discrimination should be done or condoned,” she said.
On Friday, May 17, Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) Chairman Amadeo Perez confirmed that an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) has been attacked with a baseball bat in Kaohsiung City, Taiwan.
Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said that reports of Filipino workers being harassed in Taiwan were “isolated” incidents, which do not necessarily reflect how the Taiwanese regard Filipinos. But Lacierda quickly appealed to the Taiwanese people “to refrain from hurting and making Filipino compatriots an instrument of their anger.”
“As the host for our Filipinos there, we would expect that they will be treated decently as we do treat their Taiwanese nationals here decently,” Lacierda said.
On Friday, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte disclosed that the Philippines has already made a contingency plan for Filipino workers wishing to come back from Taiwan.
Valte said that the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has been looking into “alternative markets” that would deal with the sanctions made by Taiwan.
Also on Friday, Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou and Foreign Minister David Lin both called on their compatriots to keep calm and implemented measures protect Filipinos in Taiwan.
There are currently 87,000 Philippine workers in Taiwan and labor authorities said nearly 2,000 new applications are submitted monthly. – Rappler.com