Press Release
August 13, 2013

Jinggoy lauds Taiwan's lifting of sanctions vs. PHL;
urges setting up of bilateral mechanism in handling pressing concerns

Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada has lauded Taiwan's decision to lift sanctions it earlier imposed against the Philippines following the death of a Taiwanese fisherman after an encounter with the Philippine Coast Guard in disputed waters on May 9, 2013.

Protesting the incident, Taiwan imposed several sanctions, including a freeze on its hiring of Filipino workers.

According to reports, Taiwan lifted the sanctions after the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) released its findings on the incident and recommended charges against Coast Guard personnel involved in the incident, and also after Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) chairman Amadeo Perez Jr., serving as representative of President Benigno Aquino III, issued an apology to the family of 65-year old fisherman Hung Shih Cheng who was killed during the encounter.

The lifting of the sanctions paves the way for the resumption of Taiwan's relations with the Philippines on the areas of trade, investments and hiring of OFWs.

"This resumption of productive relations between the two governments definitely results to mutual benefits. It is especially a very positive development for our OFWs," said Estrada, chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development.

He cited information showing that Taiwan is among the top destinations of OFWs and is host to some 80,000 to 100,000 Filipino workers. Statistics also showed that the deployment of workers in Taiwan is estimated at 40,000 every year.

The senator also urged Philippine officials, particularly the MECO, to beef up steps aimed at further strengthening and normalizing the two governments' relations.

He noted that tension rose during the three months that the issue was being addressed and investigated, and actual incidents of harassment against Filipinos in Taiwan were recorded.

He likewise recalled that a misunderstanding between the two governments ensued in 2011 after the Philippines deported to China the 14 Taiwanese earlier arrested along with 10 Chinese nationals all of whom were accused in an international scam targeting citizens of mainland China and were facing criminal charges in that country. The 2011 incident also adversely affected the deployment of OFWs to Taiwan as well as other areas of relations between the two governments.

"We must find ways to more effectively and efficiently manage pressing concerns between Taiwan and the Philippines and prevent or at least mitigate adverse effects on our workers and other areas of relations. For this purpose, it could be a good move if the MECO comes up with its counterpart Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) a bilateral mechanisms set-up which should be readily operational if and when any other such concern arises in the future," Estrada underscored.

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