MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang on Thursday said the Philippine government will not apologize for deporting 14 Taiwanese suspected fraudsters to China.
"Yes. It is based on our international interest to do so," Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said when asked at a press conference if there was no need to apologize to Taiwan to calm down the spat over the deportation to China.
Philippine authorities arrested 14 Taiwanese and 10 Chinese nationals in December over an alleged scam to swindle mainlanders out of $20 million.
All of those arrested were deported to China, despite protests from Taipei, which said the Taiwanese should have been sent back to the self-governed island to face justice.
Lacierda insisted that what the Philippines did was "in accordance with international interest." He said authorities in the Philippines will not allow the country to become a haven for international crime syndicates.
"The crime was committed in China. It is in our best interest to deport them to China," he said.
As a sign of protest, Taiwan said it was recalling its representative to Manila, Donald Dee, and would tighten screening of job applications of Filipino workers.
Lacierda said the Philippines respects this decision, but added they are hoping the misunderstanding would not strain bilateral relations.
He said that the Philippine government has ordered the Manila Economic Cultural Office (MECO) to make representations with the Taiwan Economic Cultural Office (TECO).
He said that aside from employment concerns, Malacañang is also concerned about Filipinos already working in Taiwan.
MECO chairman Amadeo Perez Jr. said it's possible that at least half of the 90,000 Filipino workers in Taiwan will lose their jobs because of the spat.
"Pwedeng kausapin ng Taiwan ang mga factories at pauwiin sila...hindi bababa ng kalahati, 45,000 to 50,000, posibleng mapauwi", said Perez. -- with a report from Niña Corpuz, ABS-CBN News