• Fate of ants in tussle of elephants awaits Taiwan OFWs

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    CAUGHT amid a struggle of elephants, lowly ants are trampled upon—a fate that seemingly awaits Filipino workers in Taiwan, unless the Philippine government comes to their rescue.

    Within two years, Filipino workers might be completely out of Taiwan unless the government would immediately release the result of its investigation into the Balintang Channel shooting incident.

    Andrew Tung Heng Lin, director of the political division of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) on Wednesday said that at least 3,000 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) are laid off every month amid the unresolved case of the Taiwanese fisherman who was killed during an encounter with Philippine Coast Guard in the Balintang Channel.

    At present, about 70,000 more OFWs are still in Taiwan and their working permits are set to expire soon.

    Given that figure, the Taiwanese government could totally terminate all Filipino workers in just two years depending on how the government would response to its request to expedite the resolution of the case.

    The Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) on Tuesday confirmed that about 10,000 OFWs in Taiwan were forced to return to the country after their job contracts were not renewed.

    Lin also said that by the end of July, 10,000 more OFWs whose working permits are set to expire while 6,000 others with pending visa application before the TECO.

    The Taiwanese government had stopped the hiring of Filipino workers as part of the sanctions imposed against the Philippines after a Taiwanese fisherman was killed by a Philippine Coast Guard personnel.

    Taiwan, according to Lin, will only lift the sanction if the government will response positively on their request that is to have a formal apology, punish those who were behind the incident and offer just compensation with the family of the victim.

    “Until now we are still waiting a response from the Philippines, if there is a positive response, we definitely lift our sanctions, if we lift our sanctions, definitely this mean that we will re-issue working permits to OFWs,” Lin told reporters.

    He said that OFWs, whose contracts were terminated are facing employment difficulty since they could no longer work in Taiwan.

    Because of this, he appealed to the Philippine government to immediately release the findings of its report saying that the delay causes speculations.

    “Since the Department of Justice submitted its findings to the President, it’s almost one month, up to now there is no decision, no conclusion yet. There is no signal from Malacañang to release your report,” he added.

    Lin said both Taiwan and the Philippines had agreed to release the findings of their own report simultaneously.

    DOLE assurance
    Meanwhile, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz on Wednesday assured that the jobless Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Taiwan can expect local employment in the country.

    “Local employment is a viable option for displaced OFWs in Taiwan,” the labor chief guaranteed.

    She said that almost 130,000 jobs are available based on the data from the PhilJobNet, the official online job search and matching portal of the government.

    “Those who are already here in the Philippines and those whose contracts are expiring and may not be able to go back to Taiwan can apply in the 129,180 available job vacancies as posted in the PhilJobNet,” Baldoz said.

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