TAIPEI–Government spokesman Johnny Chiang reiterated yesterday that the Philippines owes Taiwan an apology for deporting 14 Taiwanese fraud suspects to China early this month.
“The Philippine government should apologize and display goodwill and sincerity to mend bilateral relations, which have been damaged by the incident,” said Chiang, who concurrently serves as Government Information Office chief.
Taiwan has issued a formal protest over the Philippines’ deportation of the 14 Taiwanese, along with 10 Chinese suspects, to China on Feb. 2 and has recalled its envoy to Manila.
In addition, it has tightened its screening of applications by Philippine nationals seeking to work in Taiwan and has suspended visa-waiver privileges for certain Philippine citizens.
Chiang said Taiwan’s demand for an apology is reasonable and plausible, citing an editorial carried in the Manila Times that urged Malacanang Palace — the Philippines’ presidential office — not to underestimate the gravity of the situation.
The fourth-largest Philippine newspaper editorialized Tuesday that the Malacanang Palace should weigh heavily the demand made by Taiwan’s representative in Manila, Donald Lee, before his recall to Taipei last Friday, for the Philippines to apologize to Taiwan.
The editorial pointed out that in the eyes of Taiwan, the Philippines has unwittingly intervened in sensitive cross-Taiwan Strait affairs by deporting the 14 Taiwanese suspects to China.
To date, the editorial said, China still considers Taiwan one of its provinces. “It doesn’t serve Philippine interests to take sides,” the editorial added.