MANILA — The Presidential Office of the Philippines said yesterday that a dispute on the jurisdiction of 14 Taiwanese fraud suspects deported to China by Manila last week should be decided by Taiwan and China.
In an interview with DZMM Radio, Philippine Presidential Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. said the Taiwanese suspects, nabbed under a joint Philippine-Chinese police operation, were deported to China along with 10 Chinese accomplices, as they were unable to identify themselves as Taiwanese.
Ochoa said that since the Philippines follows a “one China policy,” sending the suspects to China merely showed respect for the policy.
It was the first official comment from the Philippine Presidential Office since the row came under the spotlight Feb. 2.
The incident has caused mounting outcry from across party lines in Taiwan since the Manila immigration authorities deported the Taiwanese nationals to China, ignoring demands by Taiwanese representatives in Manila.
As part of a series of retaliatory measures, Taiwan announced Feb. 7 that it was recalling its envoy to Manila and implementing a stricter screening of applications by Filipino workers seeking employment in Taiwan. Currently, around 77,000 men and women from the Philippines are working in Taiwan.
It also demanded that China send the 14 Taiwanese back to face justice in Taiwan.
Meanwhile, an opposition lawmaker demanded that Taiwan’s representative to the Philippines, Donald Lee, be recalled immediately for investigation into what he described as Lee’s dereliction of duty.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Huang-liang said that even though the suspects were detained late last year, Lee failed to use the 30-odd intervening days to nip the crisis in the bud.
According to Tsai, Lee was reportedly busy treating his relatives Feb. 3,”the day after Taiwan’s judicial jurisdiction was disrespected.”