Asia

Caution call for Filipinos in Taiwan

Philippine special envoy Amadeo Perez (C) reads a statement of apology at Taoyuan International Airport on 16 May 2013 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Amadeo Perez said tensions were high and Filipinos working in Taiwan should take care

A Philippine official has warned migrant workers in Taiwan to keep a low profile, amid a diplomatic row over the death of a fisherman.

Amadeo Perez, Manila's special envoy to Taipei, said Filipinos should stay at home while tensions were running high.

In recent days there have been reports of attacks on two workers and discrimination against others.

The Philippine coast guard shot dead a Taiwanese fisherman in disputed waters last week.

Taiwan has dismissed Manila's apologies to date as inadequate and insincere, and has imposed a raft of punitive economic measures.

These include suspending visa processing for Filipino workers and cutting trade exchanges. It has also conducted military drills in the disputed waters.

Tens of thousands of Filipinos work in Taiwan. Two have been attacked this week, reports the BBC's Cindy Sui from Taipei; one hit in the arm with a baseball bat and another beaten with metal sticks.

A spokeswoman for the Philippines de facto embassy said its officers were working with local police to investigate whether the attacks were ordinary crimes or motivated by anger over the shooting, our correspondent adds.

There have also been reports of Filipino migrant workers being refused service, including in shops.

Mr Perez, the chairman of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO), who speaking in Manila after travelling back from Taipei, said: "At this time, Taiwanese people are emotional and tension is high.''

"We advised Filipinos there not to leave home as much as possible. Eat your meals at home, and just commute directly between home and work for now.''

A team from Taiwan, meanwhile, is in Manila to investigate the incident, which led to the death of 65-year-old Hung Shih-cheng in waters both sides say lie within their 200-nautical-mile from shore exclusive economic zone.

The Philippine coastguard said its crew acted in self-defence, believing Mr Hung's boat was trying to ram their vessel. However, the other Taiwanese fishermen on board denied this.

The Taiwanese investigators arrived in Manila on Thursday - but the Philippine Justice Department said it had not been informed of the group's arrival and no formal request for a joint investigation had been made.

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