MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) - Two overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Taiwan have been attacked by unidentified assailants armed with baseball bats, the Philippines' top official to Taipei said Friday.
Taiwan's ETTV cable news channel also reported that a Filipino was allegedly attacked by four Taiwanese wielding iron bars as he went to work in southern Taiwan. He was treated at hospital for a facial injury.
One of the victims, identified as Danilo Taperla, was attacked in the city of Kaohsiung, Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) Chairman Amadeo Perez told radio dzMM.
"Nasaktan 'yung kamay niya dahil pinalo ng baseball bat. Ang gumawa nito ay 'yung mga teenager na sumasakay sa motorsiklo," Perez said. He said the case now under police investigation.
He said another Filipino, who has yet to be named, was also hit on the head with a baseball bat by attackers on board a motorcycle.
"Matagal na problema ito sa area na iyun. Mga Pilipino, Vietnamese, Indonesian at Thai ang mga binibiktima. Pero ngayon, lumalabas na Pilipino lang ang pinag-iinitan," he added.
"So far, talagang emotions are running high. Tensionado ang mga Taiwanese, galit sa mga Pilipino, galit sa kanilang gobyerno. At 'yung mga Taiwanese, kung nalaman na Pilipino ka, iirapan ka," Perez said.
"(Filipino workers) should stay at home and eat indoors before and after work," he added.
A task force has been established to investigate cases of OFWs being maltreated in Taiwan, he said. Lawyer Mario Molina, a director of MECO, is leading the task force.
Molina urged OFWs in Taiwan to inform them if they are subjected to abuse, discrimination of maltreatment.
He said all cases will be sent to Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs for action.
MECO handles trade and other relations with Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties.
Only 23 countries have diplomatic relations with Taiwan. The Philippines officially recognises Beijing over Taipei but maintains trade ties with the island.
Perez, meanwhile, confirmed that markets and restaurants in Pingtung, Taiwan are refusing to sell food to Filipinos.
"'Yung mga restaurant, kung Pilipino ang papasok, ay ayaw serve-an ng pagkain. 'Hindi kami nagse-serve ng pagkain sa Pilipino,' sabi nila," he said.
Perez also accused Taiwanese media of twisting statements made by Philippine government officials in connection with the death of a Taiwanese fisherman.
"Ang nambubuyo roon ay media. Kahapon, paalis ako run sa opisina, in-escort ako ng pulis para makasakay sa sasakyan dahil sinasarhan ako. Halos mapukpok ako ng mga microphone nila," he said.
Call for calm
Taiwan's leader on Friday meanwhile called for calm and promised to protect
Filipinos on the island.
"We will continue negotiating the issue with the Philippines and I hope everyone can calmly and peacefully resolve the issue to avoid hurting bilateral ties," Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou said while meeting a group of international scholars.
Ma said he has instructed relevant Taiwanese units to protect some 87,000 Filipinos living and working on the island to ensure they are not harmed.
Taiwan's Foreign Minister David Lin also urged calm at a press conference aimed at seeking more international support for the diplomatically isolated island in the lingering dispute.
"We consider the Filipino people as our friends... We call on our people to treat them well, and our government will continue to provide a friendly environment for them," he said.
Ready for evacuation
Perez, meanwhile, said the MECO is ready to bring home Filipinos who want to leave the island.
"Ang assurance ay galing sa ating Presidente that if necessity arises na kailangan i-evacuate ang mga kababayan natin ay ready ang gobyerno," he said.
Perez, however, said there is currently no need to evacuate Filipinos in Taiwan.
"Hindi pa naman ganoon kalala na kailangan i-evacuate ang mga Pilipino," he added.
He advised OFWs on the island to avoid going to areas hostile to Filipinos.
He said the MECO and various government departments are monitoring the situation of Filipinos in Taiwan.
Anti-Manila sentiments mounted after a 65-year-old fisherman was shot dead last week by Philippine coastguards who said his vessel intruded into Philippine waters.
Taiwan has rejected Manila's claims that the death of a Taiwanese fisherman took place in Philippine waters and that it was "unintended", while President Ma described the incident as "cold-blooded murder".
"If (Philippine) civil servants used automatic weapons to fire at unarmed and provocative fishing boats, this was not carrying out their job duties. This is cold-blooded murder," Ma said.
Taiwan has recalled its envoy, banned the hiring of new Philippine workers and staged a military drill in waters off the northern Philippines earlier this week.
A personal envoy for Philippine President Benigno Aquino was forced to return home on Thursday after Taipei rejected an apology he conveyed for the president.
Taipei has repeatedly pressed Manila to issue a formal government apology, to compensate the fisherman's family, and to apprehend the killer. - reports from dzMM; Agence France-Presse