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Filipinos in Taiwan refused Catholic procession

Ban seen as part of rising Taiwan/Philippines tensions

Filipinos in Taiwan refused Catholic procession

Participants at the Holy Cross procession in Taiwan in 2012 reporter, Hong Kong

May 15, 2013

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Taiwanese authorities have attempted to thwart a Catholic procession for Filipinos in the city of Changhua, amid rising tensions over the killing of a Taiwanese fisherman by the Filipino coastguard in disputed waters.

Hung Shih-chen, 65, was shot dead last week after his boat entered martime territory claimed by both Taiwan and Philippines. Taipei recalled its envoy yesterday and announced it would suspend the hiring of Filipino workers following criticism of Manila’s handling of the case.

Taiwan is home to more than 150,000 Filipino migrant workers, many of whom join annual traditional Holy Cross processions. Amid growing anti-Filipino sentiment among Taiwanese, the Changhua City Office yesterday withdrew its usual approval to the Catholic Church for use of its venue for the procession on May 26.

In addition, a dozen shops in a traditional market in Changhua are reportedly refusing to sell their goods to Filipinos.

“People across Taiwan are angry and discontented as the Manila government shows a strong attitude and refuses to apologise, compensate the victim’s family and apprehend the killer,” Changhua Mayor Chiu Chien-fu said yesterday.

Father Eliseo Napiere, executive secretary of the Bishops’ Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People in Taiwan, said that he was upset but  added that he understood the decision.  

Taipei is angry at the response from the Philippines, particularly the silence from President Benigno Aquino. It was left to Manila’s de facto ambassador, Antonio Basilio, to apologize for the incident.

That however has further angered Taipei. Taiwan Premier Jiang Yi-huah said that it was unacceptable that the apology came from the “people of the Philippines” rather than the government, which manages the coastguard. 

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