MECO chairman to discuss deportation row


TAIPEI — Armadeo Perez Jr., chairman of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO), will arrive in Taipei today and will meet with Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Timothy C.T. Yang the same day to discuss the diplomatic tensions between their two countries caused by a deportation issue, it was confirmed late yesterday.

Yang said he planned to express Taiwan’s displeasure over the Philippines’ deportation of 14 Taiwanese fraud suspects to China on Feb. 2 and would seek an apology from the Philippines for what he called its mistakes in its handling of the case.

“Taiwan is urging the Philippines to issue a formal apology and start negotiations on a mechanism for dealing with similar cases in the future,” Yang said, as he confirmed Perez’ visit.

The MECO, the Philippines’ representative office in Taiwan, also confirmed Thursday night that Perez will visit Taiwan and will meet with Yang.

The meeting between Perez and Yang will be the first at that level since the dispute broke out on Feb. 2.

Perez will arrive in Taipei ahead of a mission from Manila that is expected to be led by an envoy of Philippine President Benigno Aquino and to offer Taiwan an explanation of why the Philippine administration acted as it did in the matter.

Arguing that Manila had ignored its jurisdiction rights by sending the 14 suspects to China, Taiwan subsequently implemented punitive measures against the Philippines, including tighter visa screening of Philippine nationals seeking to work in Taiwan.

Taiwan recognizes Manila’s “goodwill” in its plan to send an envoy but insists that the Philippine government apologize, government spokesman Johnny Chiang reiterated Tuesday.

Manila has so far maintained that there is no need to apologize to Taiwan over the deportation issue.