Taiwan to lift visa restrictions on Filipino workers

By Joseph Yeh, The China Post

Taiwan yesterday announced its intentions to lift all retaliatory measures taken against the Philippines by removing extra restrictions it had previously imposed on Filipino workers. This decision was taken in response to the goodwill shown by the Philippine government following the deportation row. Manila has repeatedly demonstrated its regret over the incident using various concrete measures such as demoting its immigration bureau chief and suspending the head of the bureau’s intelligence division, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) in a released statement yesterday. These constructive efforts have met Taiwan’s expectations, and therefore the government decided to swiftly lift all the restrictions it had formerly imposed on visa applications and work permits for Filipino workers. Taiwan previously announced rules imposing a four-month freeze on bringing in Filipino workers, a move taken to protest Manila’s deportation of 14 Taiwanese nationals, who were involved in a fraud case, to China on Feb. 2. The punitive measures set a screening period for new Filipino workers’ applications that could take up to four months, compared with the previous 12-day maximum.

It was seen as a “technical freeze on all Filipino workers.” The MOFA noted yesterday that it will re-instate the previous screening rules on all Filipino workers’ applications.

Also, rules allowing all Filipinos holding travel visas granted by the U.S., Canada, Japan, England, and the European Union, to enter Taiwan visa free if they complete an entry application online before their scheduled visit will also be re-instated, the statement said.

Taiwan will also abolish a regulation imposed on Filipino workers requiring them to include a social insurance card with their employment application documentation.

The MOFA’s latest announcement came one day after Philippine envoy Manuel Roxas II’s second visit to Taiwan. Ramos met with President Ma Ying-jeou Monday to explain his government’s responses following the controversial deportation incident.

The fence-mending trip was apparently successful in improving bilateral relationships as Ma has expressed his pleasure with Manila’s decision to suspend and demote personnel related to the deportation.