Interview | Filipinos in Taiwan concerned, ask gov’t to lift ban

Some worry that the ban could shatter the bond they've built with Taiwanese friends, workmates and bosses through the years.

Members of the Filipino community in Taiwan ask its government to lift a travel ban on Feb. 13, 2020. (Courtesy of Apple Grace Juico)

TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) — Mariel Leon C. Perfecto had intended to bring home some medication for his 94-year-old mother who lives in the Philippines but now he wouldn’t dare to leave Taiwan.

“I have no other option,” Perfecto, who works for Microchip Technology and has been living in Taiwan for 19 years, told The China Post on Friday.

His plan to bring his mother some vitamins for her bones has been delayed since the Philippines included Taiwan in a travel ban imposed on China on Feb. 10. He fears that should he leave, he will not be able to return to his wife in Taiwan.

In an order enforced overnight, Filipinos are now forbidden to visit Taiwan and Taiwanese travelers barred from entry.

There are more than just one Perfecto out there.

This image shows a petition signed by representatives of Filipino communities on Feb. 13, 2020. (Courtesy of Apple Grace Juico)
This image shows a petition signed by representatives of Filipino communities on Feb. 13, 2020. (Courtesy of Apple Grace Juico)

The Filipino Community in Southern Taiwan Facebook group with more than 1,000 followers posted a video last night in which community leaders asked the government to reverse the ban.

A petition has been signed by 20 representatives of local communities, according to Martin Amchel Ga, one of the organizers, who has been in Taiwan for almost 9 years and is a permanent resident card holder.

Fear of Repercussions

“Please be one with us in this goal. The intention may be noble but the future repercussion outweighs it. Filipinos are safe in Taiwan. Please lift this ban,” the post reads.

Apple Grace Juico who has resided in Taiwan for almost seven years works for the Chiayi Water Pump Industry.

She told The China Post that “the foremost worry that we can all agree on is the repercussion that this ban will cause on our jobs and the possibility of other Filipinos to have said jobs here.”

Some of her friends that had returned to the Philippines for vacation are now stuck there, in fear that “they might not be able to come back,” Juico said.

Last evening, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte reportedly rejected Taiwan’s request to lift the ban and was quoted by his spokesman, Salvador Panelo, as saying that the “primary concern is the health and safety of our countrymen” and that the decision had “nothing to do with” the One China policy.

In response, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA, 外交部) stuck with a previous statement, saying that it is considering countermeasures but details will not be released until the Philippines makes a final decision at its Cabinet meeting on Friday.

‘It’s the Bond’

But for those who have spent years building a life here, it’s more than just potential countermeasures that are of their concerns.

A member of the Filipino community in Taiwan is pictured on Feb. 13, 2020. (Courtesy of Apple Grace Juico)
A member of the Filipino community in Taiwan is pictured on Feb. 13, 2020. (Courtesy of Apple Grace Juico)

“I don’t want Taiwanese people to build hate towards Filipinos,” Ga told The China Post.

He worries that the ban could “shatter the bond we’ve built with Taiwanese friends, workmates and bosses through the years.”

“I won’t stay here this long if I don’t love Kaohsiung or Taiwan,” he said, which he considers a second home.

“We are currently mobilizing all our members and friends to help share their sentiments,” Juico said, “we believe that in unity, our voice is louder.”

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