Pinoy workers pay price for Manila snub of Taiwan gov’t

300px-taiwan_flag_large.pngBy Michaela P. del Callar – Despite the Philippine govern-ment’s One-China policy, a Malacañang official yesterday admitted that Manila had issued a clearance to allow the aircraft carrying Taiwanese President Chen Shui-Bien to fly over Philippine airspace en route to Palau last September.

China’s officials in Manila, however, intervened, prompting the Air Transportation Office (ATO) to reverse its previous decision by barring the Taiwanese aircraft to pass through the Philippines, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Such move, he added, displeased the Taiwanese leader, who has ordered the suspension of labor quota for Filipino workers to Taiwan in 2007.

The Palace official said the labor ban for local hands may be in place for “quite some time.”

“We could expect serious economic implications because thousands of Filipino workers will be affected,” he added.

The official noted that the first time Taiwan flashed the labor card was during its negotiations for an air agreement with the Philippines a few years ago.

The Philippine de facto embassy in Taiwan, the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (Meco), was said to have been informed about Chen’s decision last month.

Meco officials headed by its chairman and chief executive officer Tomas Alcantara and representative and managing director to Taiwan Antonio Basilio last week personally went to Malacañang to discuss the matter with President Arroyo.

“The thing is, we cannot do anything about this (latest flap) because we adhere to the One-China policy. We didn’t see this coming. We were not expecting something as harsh as this (suspension of the labor quota),” the Malacañang official said.

Taiwan has refused to lift the suspension it imposed on the processing of visas for Filipino workers over Manila’s recent “undiplomatic” move against Chen.

“That’s the price that we have to pay even if it would hurt our labor sector,” the official said.

As a policy of the Philippine government, any planned stopovers or visits by Chen or other Taiwanese government officials will not be allowed by Manila.

But the Philippines may allow a ranking Taiwanese official to transit only in cases of engine trouble or medical emergency.

Manila maintains economic but not diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

Taiwan has been separated from the Chinese mainland since 1949 but the Beijing government claims the island as part of its territory.

China objects to any foreign contact that appears to treat Taiwan as a sovereign government.

“China is the recognized state, not Taiwan. Although we could feel the effects of Taiwan’s action in the years to come, I think we will benefit more from China because it is an emerging economic and political superpower in the region,” the official said.

Since last Oct. 1, some 1,000 Filipino workers have not been deployed to Taiwan after their visas were not processed by the Taiwanese government.

Taipei has announced that it had an opening for 80,000 foreign workers but it excluded Filipinos from its roster of nationalities to be allowed to work there next year.

The Philippines has been deploying an estimated 35,000 Filipino workers annually in Taiwan.

Its apparent sticking to the One-China policy is seen as appeasing the Chinese government, which the Arroyo administration banks on, at least for the completion of a multimillion-peso railroad project.

The Northrail deal, designed to modernize an abandoned line linking Metro Manila to a number of key provinces in the Philippines’ Central Luzon region, has been reported to be disadvantageous to Manila.

Mrs. Arroyo, in a veiled threat to the Bush administration after it practically eased her out from the so-called “coalition of the willing” leading the war on Iraq, had spoken of the economic advantages from improved diplomatic relations with Beijing.

via Tribune

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Comments

  1. This article, as with most other articles reporting on disputes with the Taiwan government authorities, assumes that the “Republic of China” is the legitimate government of Taiwan. However, THAT IS NOT THE CASE. I invite you to read the legal summary of a new court case filed in Washington D.C. in late Oct. which reveals the truth of Taiwan’s international legal status — http://www.taiwankey.net/dc/suitsuen3.htm

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