Reports of Taiwanese beating Filipino workers on the street and at work in retaliation for the killing of their countryman by Filipino Coast Guard on Balintang Channel is most disturbing. To state the obvious, these workers had nothing to do with the incident. And yet the newspapers carry stories of teens hunting down Filipinos as if they were some animals, to torment for sport.
Granted, the Philippine Government, under an incompetent leadership, may have handled the diplomatic row badly, but the Taiwanese are clearly over-reacting. The incident is under investigation by the National Bureau of Investigation. It would thus be a good idea for everybody to wait for the result. And our Taiwanese friends can rest assured there would be no whitewash, something they imply when they demand that a parallel investigation should be conducted. If they don’t know it yet, Filipinos are notorious for fault finding and the faintest hint of a whitewash would surely find its way to the media.
Our Taiwanese friends should rein in troublemakers in their midst. The shooting, whatever the result of the investigation will show, was not meant as affront to Taiwan and its people. There was no such intention, and it is stretching the imagination too much to assume otherwise. Hunting down Filipinos or anybody who looks like one totally oversteps the bounds of civilized behavior.
The Taiwanese government claims the shooting occurred in disputed waters. As suggested a while back, investigation is still underway so we cannot say for sure. The fact remains, however, that Taiwanese and, indeed, Chinese from the mainland routinely violate the Philippines’ territorial seas. How many times has the Philippine Government apprehended
Taiwanese and Chinese poachers. And in practically all cases, we freed them upon the representation of their respective governments.
This is not a defense of the shooting. The crew of the Coast Guard ship may have violated the rule of engagement. As a result, a man was unnecessarily killed, but there is no premeditated intention to take a man’s life.
The Taiwanese put President Aquino to task for making what they describe as a half-hearted and insincere apology. Their government demands that its justice department be allowed to participate in the investigation of the incident, but it knows fully well that the idea, if seriously taken, would encroach into the sovereignty of the country. In other words, the Taiwanese know a joint investigation—or parallel investigation as some of them describe it—just is not possible, and yet they insist on it. So who’s being insincere now?
In any case, the frenzy worked up by irresponsible elements has resulted in an open season for Filipino workers. Like all countries, Taiwan has its share of hotheads. It is these people that the government must rein in so that we can talk about the problem in a dispassionate manner—and resolve it to the satisfaction of both countries.
Unfortunately, Taiwan inflames the situation by playing the race card. It has announced a freeze in the hiring of Filipinos and even hinted it would send all 40,000 OFWs home.
No doubt the Philippines would suffer if that threat were to be carried out. One source of a considerable amount of foreign currency for the country would dry up. But on the other hand the Taiwanese hi-tech industry depends on the expertise of Filipino engineers and technicians for its continuing viability and competitiveness. If the OFWs were repatriated back to their home country, Taiwan would lose much more financially.
Filipinos regard the Chinese as friends, whether they come from China, Taiwan, or Hong Kong. In fact, the country has always opened its doors to Chinese of all stripes throughout much of history. Now these very people are pushing us around. We are a weak country financially and militarily, and so we do not want to pick a fight with our neighbors. But countries, like individuals, can only take so much.