After the angry emotions have died down, and after both sides have said all there is to say about one unfortunate and tragic incident, the time has come for relations between the Philippines and Taiwan to return to normal.
An investigation behind the killing of a Taiwanese fisherman by the Philippine Coast Guard has been conducted jointly. The conclusions may differ, but at least a serious attempt was made to get to the bottom of the incident that occurred in Philippine waters.
This has always been clear. The Taiwanese fishing boat had entered Philippine waters and tried to run when accosted by the Coast Guard. Sufficient warnings were aired and all the
Taiwanese boat had to do was to allow the Coast Guard to board and inspect its cargo.
If indeed all the boat was doing was to engage in commercial fishing, then there should have been no problem.
Whatever both sides conclude, surely there is no cause for extending the chill in relations any further. To do so will only cause further harm to the economies of both Taiwan and the Philippines.
If Taiwan insists on freezing all visa applications of Filipino workers, it is the Taiwanese companies that badly need their services that will suffer.
Those companies would not have hired the Filipinos if they did not have a need for their services. Incidentally, these are not domestic helpers that are being blocked from the jobs that they signed up for. For the most part, they are skilled laborers who are not easy to recruit.
We must point out that Taiwan engaged in most churlish behavior when it chose to “uninvite” the Philippines from taking part in the Jones Cup basketball tournament. The country’s national team had been training for this tournament, wherein the Philippines is the defending champion.
What more can we add but to say that this was very unsportsmanlike behavior? Yet we can let such behavior pass because we chose to be magnanimous in the hopes that the Taiwanese leadership will know how to reciprocate.
Owing to the One China policy, the Philippines does not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan, which is considered a rogue province of China. But there is no denying that the differences between Taipei and Manila over the incident calls for a diplomatic solution.
The Philippines has done its part. In fact, some would say the country has done more than enough, what with no less than the President of the Philippines apologizing twice for the incident. The country also sent an official delegation to meet with the family of the victim.
The country can do no more. It is now up to the Taiwanese people and their leaders to put the incident behind us. This is the sensible and rational thing to do.