News / Asia

Philippine Workers in Taiwan Feel Backlash

Protesters hurl eggs at the Philippines representative office in Taipei, Taiwan, May 13, 2013.
Protesters hurl eggs at the Philippines representative office in Taipei, Taiwan, May 13, 2013.
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Simone Orendain
— Advocates for Philippine migrant workers say they are concerned about the effects of a hiring freeze Taiwan's government has put in place against the Philippines.  The move came less than a week after a Philippine Coast Guard crew admitted shooting at a Taiwanese vessel, killing a fisherman. 

Statistics from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration show close to 30,000 Filipinos are hired as workers in Taiwan every year.  The government says there are a total of more than 85,000 workers there now. 

Migrante International Chairman Garry Martinez says workers with pending applications for jobs in Taiwan will be hit especially hard.  This is because even before they leave, they may owe recruitment and other application fees, which come to one month’s salary or more.

“They’re asking for the bank to give them money and there is some collateral and the big interest to the loan shark.  That is the problem they are facing now,” he said.

Martinez says workers already in Taiwan also face uncertainty.  His niece is a machinist at a factory and he says he has received reports from her and from other factory workers that their bosses anticipate business will slow down if they cannot hire.

The hiring freeze and sanctions on travel to the Philippines went into effect Wednesday, after Taiwan rejected Philippine President Benigno Aquino’s apology for the fishing incident, calling it unofficial because it came from a de facto envoy to Taiwan. Taiwanese investigators in Manila on Saturday called the shooting a murder.

Aquino’s spokespeople have reiterated the administration’s regret over the “unintended and unfortunate incident,” drawing the ire of Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou, who said they could not assess the situation in these terms without a joint investigation.  But the Philippines has said "no" to such an arrangement.

Manila-based security analyst Rommel Banlaoi says the carefully worded messages are in keeping with the Philippines’ view that Taiwan is part of China. 

“We deal with Taiwan [in a] purely economic sense, trade and commerce and investment.  But we avoid having political or security ties with Taiwan… because we don’t want to undermine the ‘One China’ policy,” said Banlaoi.

Banlaoi says Taiwan’s reaction is “not an act of a friend,” especially because they are the sixth-largest partner of the Philippines with annual trade of $2 billion.  He says the overseas contract workers are a major contributor to this relationship.

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by: Maricel L from: Philippines
May 20, 2013 4:07 AM
We are praying for our filipino families staying and working in taiwan to be safe and free from this tragedy. We do not know what is the real story behind this unintentional/killing but to be sure is that the Taiwanese Fishers are in the territory of Philippines and rules should apply. But if they confirmed that the Filipino coast guard has the intention of killing the fishermen in taiwan then I agree that there should be an equal punishment... Please don't hurt our families and friends in your country just because of this incident. Thank you

In Response

by: Harry Reacher from: Los Angeles
May 20, 2013 4:07 PM
I'm not Taiwanese, but I hate liars!

1. Taiwanese fish boat was not in philippines territory.
2. Whether the boat is in your territory, you don't shoot and kill in such cold blood way.
3. How could it even possible for a fish boat to try to ram into the coast guard boat? The philippines government needs to stop lying.
4. Machine gun shooting at the crews cabin was unintentional?

If your people are murdered in Taiwan in the same cold blood way, and Taiwan tells you "we regret what has happened and it's unintentional." Will you accept such a response?

In Response

by: Peter from: Taiwan
May 20, 2013 11:03 AM
We pray for everyone, in Philippines or in Taiwan. We need only a full investigation and a fair treatment.

In Response

by: Dan from: Taiwan
May 20, 2013 9:04 AM
I think you don't have to worry about the filipino workers in Taiwan. I couldn't say that all the Taiwanese are friendly and reasonable but at least most of us know who should charge with this tragedy. I'm also worried about the Taiwanese people in Philippines because I have heard some of the filipino used a picture to frame up that we hit filipino workers. In fact, that picture is a riot in Sinkiang, mainland China, in 2009.I don't know what did you believe, but please don't believe the rumor.

In Response

by: Magnus from: Taiwan
May 20, 2013 8:11 AM
Don't worry i won't hurt Philippines but i heard that some Philippines were being yelled at (not sure) but i also heard that Taiwanese in Philippine are getting the same treatment too. Also from the video recording of the boat, we did not cross the border.


by: Joe from: Wash DC
May 19, 2013 10:39 PM
How quick Taiwanese condemn the Philippine Coast Guard as pirates of the South China Sea. How quick have you forgotten that in 1949, this same Philippine Coast Guard and the Philippine Navy picked up Chinese small boats trying to flee the mainland. These Chinese are given refuge to the Philippines and assimilated with Filipinos and now these Chinese-Filipinos are now captain of industries in the Philippines. History often repeats itself and when the mainland claims their island people always sail to the nearest land who will give them refuge. So it is important that emotions don't burn bridges.


by: Sarah
May 19, 2013 9:14 PM
-->Banlaoi says Taiwan’s reaction is “not an act of a friend.

By killing our fisherman, is that an act of a friend? The investigation found 26 bullets and over 50 bullet holes on the fish boat.

If that's your definition of a friend, then no, you are 100% right, we do not want to be Philippine's friend.


by: James
May 19, 2013 8:33 PM
Philippine coast guard is the notorious prirate in South China Sea, killing and shooting people are just the way they make for living. When they spot a fishing boat, they always stop the boat and ask for money. If the fishmem do not follow the order and run away, they just open fire and shoot the fishmen. Philippine goverment always lies to their people and claims that the fishmen are illigal fishing and the coast guards just invoke self-defense to prevent it from ramming theirs. This kind of incidents happened several times, Taiwanese people have enough and demand their goverment to do something to prevent this kind of incident happening again. Taiwanese people are not easy to be fooled as the muslim in Philippine.


by: Joe from: Wash DC
May 19, 2013 7:44 PM
Taiwan asked for an apology, apology was given by the Philippines from the highest level. Taiwan can't politicize the issue to boost failing political popularity. The Philippines have accommodated Taiwanese sensitivities but can not continue with a moving goal post being set by Taiwan. It was an unfortunate incident but not worth burning bridges between two long term allies for a short political gain. Political maturity goes to whoever takes the high ground.

In Response

by: Joe from: Wash DC
May 20, 2013 12:36 PM
Oh you are right. As an American I don't know anything about violence. Remember people hate us for just being Americans. People hate us for our way of life. Inspite of all that rules of law prevail - not emotions.

In Response

by: Peter from: Taiwan
May 20, 2013 6:24 AM
Taiwan people need only the humble justice for the fisherman, based on a full investigation. Political gain is not our concern in this event.

In Response

by: Magnus from: Taiwan
May 20, 2013 4:35 AM
What do you know Joe, first of all i want to clarify this, the phillipines did not apologize. Secondly what will you feel if an American fisherman was killed by other country's military without any reason?


by: Joe from: US
May 19, 2013 7:36 PM
The report is biased and some of the comments are not right. There is no solid evidence yet that Philippine workers were stabbed as of yet, you probably mistaken one Philippine worker stabbed two other workers (from other country) in Taiwan. You are suggested to do some research before posting your comment.

Taiwan did not ask Philippine to kneel down and beg, instead Taiwan asked for an fair and square state apology which is common worldwide. What Philippine did was.

1. Send "personal representative" for an "personal apology".
2. The letter full of biased-assumptions , such as "Unintentionally killed, accident....personally.....
3. Funny thing is the apology also was only signed by one Philippine officer, that was not even an state apology letter.

The boat was directly shot 59 bullets, a lot of otherS were shot into water without trace, most from upper left hand side of the boat plus many from behind of the boat. Taiwan has showed all the evidence including but not limited GPS record of the crime sense. The thrill triggering part was most of the hitting bullet was aimed at the ship cabinet where unarmed fishermen hiding from lift been taken. The 65 years old was shot dead inside the cabinet while the rest of the 3 hide themself below the cabinet (close to engine room ), the majorly of the engine part protected fishermen from shot.

AND ALL OF THIS CONSIDERED AS "UN-INTENTIONAL ACCIDENT" IN THE LETTER. ISN'T IT A JOKE?

In Response

by: Joe from: US
May 24, 2013 6:15 AM
I believe you do not know there is nothing to do with the "Fine line" you talked about. The apology was full of "unintended kill" "accident" "Personal Apology" those kind of stuff. You are talking something totally unrelated to this issue. Beside, if you carefully observe the whole issue Taiwan has showed up all the evidences but Philippine still not as of today (May 24). Philippine also reject Taiwanese justice department to investigate further, so far. The rage out from Taiwan is not without reason. If you would spend some time carefully read those news and pay attentions to all the details you would have found a lot questions from the P government. It looks to me they are trying to hide something. Period.

In Response

by: Joe from: Wash DC
May 19, 2013 11:24 PM
Unfortunately political reality dictates that the Philippines can not give Taiwan a state apology. The President of the Philippines provided a carefully worded apology on behalf of the Filipino people and by doing this he risk a lot of political capital both in the Philippines and abroad to express his nation's regret. I am not a big fan of one China policy but unfortunately the lack of political will made your island nation a renegade province of the mainland. I think you are aware of that. There is a fine line that nations thread when dealing with Taiwan.


by: airy from: US
May 19, 2013 6:36 PM
Allow me to update the accusations regarding the alleged Filipino workers being persecuted in Taipei.

So far there are two attack cases confirmed, correct me if anyone has more facts, and the people who committed the attacks have reportedly been caught and they are expected to pay for what they have done and will be put into jail for attacking innocent people. In my country, all human beings, including the Filipino workers, are protected by the law. We do not fabricate lies to try to protect "bad guys" like some people do.

If Taiwan is what the Philippines people have called a country of Nazism where her people persecute foreign workers, how come there are more than 8,000 Filipino workers in Taiwan and many of them choose to stay here for years? These workers are not slaves and they walk in our country on their feet without a chain. They make their own choice to stay here, and there must be some good reasons for them to choose to stay here.

As a matter of facts, Taiwan is one of the most friendly and safest places for foreign workers. That is why it is one of the most popular countries that the Philippines migrant workers "choose" to stay. Also,These workers can always choose to leave if they no longer believe it is safe for them to live here. Persecution is all about the people who cannot make their own choice, not the people who are free to choose.

In Response

by: Stanluca from: Los Angeles, CA, USA
May 20, 2013 12:39 AM
Well said. Just a little correction, there are over 80,000 Filipino workers in Taiwan, not 8,000. Considering the population of Taiwan is only 23 million, it's quite a bit.


by: CGH from: Taiwan
May 19, 2013 5:09 PM
This is a less important part of a developing story. VOA should be able to tell a more convincing story. After all, people in Taiwan expect fair treatment.


by: Charlie Ang from: USA
May 19, 2013 3:36 PM
The Philippine government sent envoys and apologized, gave financial aids to the family, what more do you want for the President to kneel down and beg ? you have already killed 3 filipino OFW's and stabbed an innocent lady worker. Does this make you happy so who is more civilized now ? The case is under investigation and result will come out in due time.

In Response

by: james from: USA
May 20, 2013 4:51 AM
First of all.. TAIWAN is not even a country. It is still under China. It should be ..A state apology given to another state. Tell you frankly.. It is good that the president already give apologies even though Taiwan keep fishing in Philippine territory.
Reason: Everyone in southeast asia bullies Philippines due to low budget in defense. They are depending in US aid for defense which is a mistake.

OA: Over acting. Taiwan is destroying the image of the Philippines so they may claim Philippines territory but knowing the chinese.. NO ONE in the International community sympathizes with china even with effort of destroying the image. WHY? Because everyone know the truth that CHINA is INHUMAN and cruel .
FOR people who would say that Taiwan is a country: "im sorry to say, FACT: you are not a country and not acknowledge by the UNITED NATION. No sovereignty .So before insulting Philippines, Make effort first getting your independence because they were able to do it. 100 years ago against spain and 67 years ago against Japan and USA.

FACT: CHINA IS COMMUNIST and a BULLY. PERIOD.

In Response

by: Taiwan Needs Justice from: Taiwan
May 19, 2013 6:44 PM
Be careful of your words choosing. The Philippine government never use the word of APOLOGY to response to Taiwan. Who tell you 3 filipino killed? If it's the sources of the Philippines, you're feeding with garbage news. The reality is 1. The Philippines government intentionally murdered the fisherman and it's not the first time. 2. The Philippines government never say a word of APOLOGY to Taiwan ( even other cases for past decades ).


by: socali177
May 19, 2013 12:51 PM
Its very sad to see former friend Taiwan do this..

In Response

by: Harry Reacher from: Los Angeles
May 20, 2013 4:12 PM
When you murdered your friend's family, what else do you expect? And, there's not a sincere apology. "Unintentional"? I'm sure if the Taiwanese do the same to you guys, you would have probably showed more anger.

In Response

by: ed from: taipei
May 20, 2013 5:22 AM
it's sad for us to see this, too. but don't you eager to know the truth? the whole thing should be seen in a justice view. find out a win-win solution. and make sure it won't happen again.

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