PRESIDENT Benigno S. Aquino III’s private emissary to Taiwan, former Senator Mar Roxas,
said he made a strong pitch to senior Taiwan officials led by its President Ma Ying-jeou on
Tuesday (Feb.22) to safeguard the welfare of Filipino workers despite the strain brought by
the deportation to China of 14 Taiwanese nationals by Philippine courts.
Roxas told Palace reporters that Taiwan considers the deportation to China of the 14
Taiwanese nationals charged by Philippine courts as unjustifiable. “They demanded from the
ministerial level to the President an apology which we did not give,” Roxas said.
“We expressed deep regrets for the damaged and hurt feelings this has caused the people
of Taiwan but we also conveyed the Filipino people’s sincere desire to ease the strain
caused on Philippine- Taiwan relations. We assured the Taiwanese that there was never any
intention on the Philippine side to put at risk the longstanding good relations between the two
sides,” Roxas said.
He reported on the extensive meetings—one at the foreign ministry level (headed by Foreign
Minister Timothy Yang) which lasted for 11 hours last Monday and then with President Ma for
one hour on Tuesday—but “at every instance we forwarded the concerns of the Philippines
regarding overseas Filipino workers already in Taiwan and those who were scheduled to go
to Taiwan which could be put on hold by this controversy.”
Roxas said the Philippines expressed “openness to establishing a mechanism of mutual
assistance in dealing with transnational crimes and the feasibility of beginning negotiations
for closer economic ties possibly through economic partnership agreements, to which Taiwan
expressed receptivity and openness.
Roxas maintained that Philippine relations with Taiwan have not worsened as there are
communication links and initiatives in place which are being considered to “repair the damage
from this regrettable incident and for friendly relations to move forward.”
Accompanying Roxas in Taiwan were Manila Economic Cooperation Office (MECO)
Chairman Amadeo Perez Jr., Ambassador Tony Basilio and other MECO board members.