The China Post news staff
Filipino workers in Taiwan yesterday protested against the government’s freeze on workers entering the nation after the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) tightened screening of job applications, as the Philippines continues to refuse to apologize for the deportation of 14 Taiwanese fraud suspects to China. The move was considered by local activists to be technically barring the influx of workers. Filipino migrant workers union KaSaPi, the Taiwan International Workers’ Association (TIWA), Indonesian migrant workers association IPIT and other related organizations rallied on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office holding up signs that read “APOLOGIZE” and calling out slogans like “We did nothing wrong” to express their displeasure over the situation.
The workers also performed the traditional Filipino “Ati-Atihan”dance to Korean pop song “Sorry Sorry,” all in hopes of the government accepting their apology on behalf of the Philippine government and calling off the retaliatory measure. President Ma Ying-jeou is reportedly greatly dissatisfied with the Philippines after President Benigno Aquino III denied Taiwan’s request for an apology. The “A-word” (apologize) sparked further dispute when the envoy from the Philippines, sent by Aquino to Taiwan to repair bilateral relations, also offered no official apology.
Wu Yong-yi (吳永毅), a researcher from TIWA, asked the government to listen to the Filipino workers in Taiwan, as the workers are innocent and the real victims of the diplomatic row between the two countries. Instead of letting Filipino workers become scapegoats for the Philippines, Taiwan should draft more appropriate measures against the Filipino government, said Wu. The CLA implemented a stricter screening of applications for hiring new Filipino workers on Feb. 8, which TIWA said amounted to a “technical freeze on Filipino workers.” Currently, the screening period for new Filipino workers’ applications can take up to four months, compared with the previous 12-day maximum, said CLA minister Wang Ju-hsuan. Wang also stated last month that the CLA is ready to implement a total freeze on work permits for new Filipino workers if the Ministry of Foreign Affairs decides to adopt more stringent measures against the Philippines.
According to Wu, there are around 80,000 Filipino workers in Taiwan. The punitive measures will directly affect another 5,000 workers who are currently applying for jobs in Taiwan and another 3,000 who are about to change their contracts.