Philippines Special Envoy In Taiwan Cautions Filipino Workers To Keep Low Profile As Tensions Run High Over Fisherman’s Shooting

 @AmruthaGayathri
on May 17 2013 8:53 AM
Protest in Manila
Former police officer Afuang burns replica of Taiwan's national flag as he protests against mistreatment of Filipinos working overseas, along main street of Manila on May 17, 2013 REUTERS

Philippines special envoy in Taiwan on Friday advised thousands of Filipino workers there to have meals at home and keep a low profile, amid a diplomatic row over the shooting death of a Taiwanese fisherman by the Philippines Coast Guard on May 9.

Philippines Special Envoy Amadeo Perez’s advice came after the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO), the Philippines representative office in Taipei, confirmed reports that a Filipino worker in Kaoshiung, in southern-western Taiwan, was attacked with a baseball bat by an angry Taiwanese apparently in retaliation to the killing of the fisherman.

“At this time, Taiwanese people are emotional and tension is high,” Perez was quoted as saying in Manila by the Associated Press. “We advised Filipinos there not to leave home as much as possible. Eat your meals at home and just commute directly between home and work for now.”

The Filipino attack victim suffered a bruised shoulder, but has been discharged from the hospital, Philippines media reported.

This is the first time that MECO confirmed reports about violence against Filipinos in Taiwan, the Manila Bulletin reported. There were reports that another Filipino worker was attacked with metal sticks, but there has been no official confirmation on this.

“We are documenting the cases [of attacks],” Perez said.

He said he may recommend the repatriation of Filipinos if the need arises. “We will not abandon our people,” he said.

Approximately 87,000 Filipinos work in Taiwan, many of whom are employed in the manufacturing sector, and also as domestic workers.

Earlier, Taiwan suspended hiring of Filipino workers over Manila’s handling of the shooting death, saying the Philippines government lacked sincerity and was offering “reckless and perfunctory responses.”

Taiwan also conducted military drills in the disputed waters.

Philippines coast guard personnel opened fire on the Taiwanese boat, the Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28, from a vessel that belonged to the fisheries division of the Philippines Department of Agriculture, in the disputed Bashi Strait, between Taiwan and the northern Philippines, on May 9.

Both countries are investigating the incident. Fourteen Taiwanese police investigators are in Manila, and Philippines investigators will ask Taiwanese authorities for permission to inspect the fishing boat and interview the crew, the AP reported.

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