MANILA–Taiwan’s planned recall of its envoy in Manila over a deportation row involving Taiwanese fraud suspects does not represent a setback in two-way relations, a Philippine official said yesterday.
The official with the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO), who asked not to be named, said Taiwan’s representative to Manila Donald Lee was asked to return to Taiwan and report on the incident.
The Philippines government on Feb. 2 deported to China 14 Taiwanese and 10 Chinese suspects who were arrested last year for fraud.
In a strong protest against the Philippines decision to send the Taiwanese suspects to China, Taiwan said it would take retaliatory actions to safeguard its sovereignty.
The measures include Lee’s recall and a decision to implement stricter screening of applications by Philippines nationals seeking to enter Taiwan for work.
But the MECO official said the office does not view such actions as a deterioration of bilateral Taipei-Manila relations.
The MECO sees Lee’s recall as “sad,” but it respects Taiwan’s decision, the official added.
However, the deportation dispute has hurt the feelings of the Taiwan people and it would take time to restore the two-way ties, the official conceded.
Antonio Basilio, the Philippines’ envoy to Taipei who is currently in Manila, declined to comment on the issue.
Lee, who is still in Manila, will hold a news conference on Feb. 9 to explain Taiwan’s stance on the matter and the measures it might take in response to the controversial deportation.
Meanwhile, the federation of Taiwanese businessmen associations in the Philippines issued a statement Tuesday, saying that it will temporarily suspend its charity activities in protest against what it said was the Philippine government’s disregard for Taiwan’s sovereignty.