05/23/2013, 00.00
TAIWAN - PHILIPPINES
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Taiwanese students promote "friendship" with Filipino immigrants

by Xin Yage
The initiative aims to show solidarity with Filipinos impacted by controversy over a naval incident between Manila and Taipei on May 9 last. Immigrants contribute to social development and co-operate in the protection of children and the elderly. Student: The person who shot is responsible, not "the honest workers here."

Taipei (AsiaNews) - A group of good-willed Taiwanese students have launched a campaign to show support for the Filipino workers in Taiwan. The young people's initiative to raise awareness is a concrete response to the continuous TV news and the headlines on the main Taiwanese media, regarding the Philippine Coast Guard's killing of 65-year old fisherman Hung Shih-cheng (洪石成), and the subsequent investigation.

Sunday, May 19th a group of students met outside the parish most frequented by the Filipino community in the center of Taipei and posted signs of support for Filipinos in Taiwan. They were led by Chun-Li from (李春 大), an energetic student who never tired of repeating that nobody should direct their anger towards the workers. In recent years they have offered an important contribution to Taiwanese society especially in assisting the elderly, children and as laborers on construction sites.

"The government and the shooter are responsible, not the honest workers we have here" said Li. There are about 87 thousand Filipino workers in Taiwan, in recent weeks there have been reports of some abuses against them, so the young Li has encouraged a number of initiatives and invited everyone to be friendly towards the innocent Filipino workers.

Meanwhile, on May 20 Taipei and Manila came to the agreement to conduct a parallel investigation with the Philippine team that will travel to examine the vessel and a Taiwanese delegation that will travel to the Philippines and have access to recordings of dialogues between members of the Coast Guard and the tests still available about the incident.

It all started the morning of May 9 in disputed waters between Taiwan and the Philippines, when the Philippine Coast Guard fired 52 shots on the Taiwanese fishing vessel to stop the boats engine. The flurry of shots killed Hung Shih-cheng. While the incident was considered an accident by the Philippine government and not the result of self-defense, it has caused a strong reaction in Taipei which speaks of cold-blooded murder because as many as 24 bullets were found in the cockpit and the vessel was unarmed.

Tension rose following Manila's refusal to apologize, while past incidents were dragged up in the public memory. In the absence of an official apology from the government of Manila, Wednesday 15 May, the Taiwanese government issued eleven punitive measures, including the termination of the issuance of permits to Filipino workers, Taiwan's representative to Manila was recalled and Antonio Basilio, the Philippines representative to Taiwan was invited to return to the Philippines. Luckily the initiative of the young students of these days brings with it a note of constructive reconciliation: it is hoped that the whole affair will find a solution for justice and reconciliation, with due compensation to the victim's family and a clear definition of the rights to the fishing in the sea between Taiwan and the Philippines, to avoid similar incidents in the future.

 

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