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Filipinos in Taiwan apologize for fisherman shooting

Authorities urged not to discriminate against innocent workers reporter, Manila

May 20, 2013

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Filipino Catholics in Taiwan yesterday gathered in front of a church in Taipei to apologize for the fatal shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman in disputed waters on May 9.

The gathering at St Christopher's Church offered a moment of silence for fisherman Hung Shih-cheng and appealed to the Taiwanese people not to discriminate against Filipinos. 

"We did not commit the crime," said Oria Gayaden, a member of the group Alliance of Filipino Organizations.

Chen Hsiu-lien, of the Taiwan International Workers' Association that organized the gathering, called on the Taiwanese government not to "pick on easy targets."

Chen was referring to the freeze on hiring Filipino workers as a sanction against the Philippines for the May 9 incident. 

Sunday's gathering came a day after another Filipino worker was injured in an attack on a dormitory for Filipinos on Saturday. 

Marissa de Guzman, a Filipino national, said a group of Taiwanese broke into the dormitory and attacked an unnamed Filipino worker who suffered a fractured arm.

Joey de Leon, another Filipino who was attacked by a group of Taiwanese men, has recovered from his injuries and has received an apology from one of the attackers.

"I have now recovered. I can go back to work," he said in an interview. A group of Taiwanese men attacked De Leon on Saturday. Authorities arrested one of the attackers and issued an apology.

"Everything is now okay. He apologized to me," De Leon said, adding that the attacker insisted he was drunk.

A group of Taiwanese students, meanwhile, launched yesterday a campaign to show support for Filipino workers in Taiwan. The students held a rally to appeal for "friendly treatment" of Filipinos in Taiwan.

Filipino participants of the rally held up placards that read "Have Peace" and "We are Innocent" and chanted slogans "Support the fisherman!" and "Anti-discrimination!"

Taiwan yesterday also announced a 24/7 hotline that will act on reports of harassment against Filipinos.

The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) said Filipinos could call Hotline 1955 for authorities to take immediate actions to protect Filipinos.

TECO voiced its "sincerity and determination to continue protecting the welfare and legal rights" of nearly 90,000 Filipinos working in Taiwan.

In the past week, there have been several reports of Filipinos being assaulted by Taiwanese nationals over the May 9 incident.

Philippine officials on Monday hinted at possible cooperation between Philippine and Taiwanese investigators looking into the May 9 shooting of the Taiwanese fisherman.

On Sunday, Taiwan claimed to have reached a consensus with the Philippines on a possible parallel investigation. 

David Lin, Taiwan's foreign minister, was quoted as saying that both sides will soon work out how to proceed with the matter.

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