Saturday, February 12, 2011

Labor exec allays Taiwan-based OFWs’ fears amid stricter visa rules

Philippine labor officials sought to allay the fears of some 80,000 Filipinos working in Taiwan in the wake of an "unpleasant incident" involving the deportation of 14 Taiwanese nationals to China.

Labor Undersecretary Danilo Cruz downplayed the possibility of OFWs losing their jobs in Taiwan, especially after Taiwan’s move to tightened requirements and procedures for admitting Filipino workers.

"Filipino workers in Taiwan may have fears of being subjected to stricter requirements and procedures. But I do not think OFWs they will be forced out of their jobs because many Taiwanese firms are satisfied with their performance," Cruz said in Filipino in an interview on dzBB radio.

Cruz also said the Philippine government, through the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) in Taipei, is taking steps to defuse the situation.

He said the MECO has explained the Philippine government's actions in deporting the 24.

"Kinausap na ng ating representative sa MECO ang mga opisyal ng Taiwan (Our representative at MECO has talked to Taiwanese officials)," he said.

There are some 80,000 Filipino workers in Taiwan, most of them working in electronics factories, while some 20,000 are caregivers earning about P30,000 a month.

The row between the Philippines and Taiwan stemmed from the arrest last Dec. 27 of 24 foreigners, including 14 Taiwanese, on charges of fraud.

Despite attempts by Taiwan officials and lawyers who maintained that the 14 were Taiwanese citizens and should be shipped to Taiwan, all 24 were deported to Mainland China last Feb. 2.

While the Philippines follows the One-China Policy and maintains diplomatic ties with Beijing, it also has economic ties with Taipei.

Taiwan recalled its de facto ambassador to the Philippines Donald Lee following the “inhumane" deportation of its "citizens" to Mainland China.

Taiwan's displeasure

Cruz said Taiwan has adopted measures to show its displeasure, including "extending" the screening process for workers from 12 days to months.

He said that another measure involved the withdrawal of a "privilege" where Filipinos with visas to the United States, Japan and European Union member countries need not apply for a visa in going to Taiwan.

Cruz admitted that while the new measures will not likely affect Filipinos already working in Taiwan, it may affect new workers to be deployed there.

"Taiwan never said it will force Filipinos already there out of their jobs. But these measures may affect Filipinos about to head there at this time," he said. — LBG/RSJ, GMA News

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