PNoy urged: Send FVR to Taiwan instead

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 15 2013 07:29 PM | Updated as of May 16 2013 03:29 AM

MANILA - A former congressman is urging President Benigno Aquino III to tap the services of former President Fidel Ramos to go to Taiwan and apologize over the Philippine Coast Guard's shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman.

Apolinario Lozada Jr., former chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, said sending the head of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office might not be enough to assuage Taiwanese authorities.

"I was really hoping that Aquino would tap the services of former president Fidel V. Ramos who can express our regrets over the incident. President Aquino does not need to issue any statement but by his action of sending a former president to the Taiwanese I think would be more than enough to assuage the Taiwanese," he told ANC.

He said sending Ramos, who is now a private citizen, will not go against the country's adherence to a one-China policy.

"His stature would really help a lot in solving this problem.  His mere presence to go to Taiwan would be a big advantage for the Taiwanese already," he said.

Taiwan recalled on Wednesday its envoy to the Philippines, froze applications for work permits and ordered military exercises in waters between the two sides to press a demand for an apology for the shooting death of a Taiwanese fisherman.

A Kyodo News report said Taiwan Foreign Minister David Lin refused to meet with MECO chief Amadeo R. Perez after the country announced sanctions against the Philippines over the fatal shooting last week of a Taiwanese fisherman in disputed waters.

Ministry spokeswoman Anna Kao told reporters Lin declined to meet with Perez, who arrived in Taipei on Wednesday afternoon, because Perez was not sufficiently "authorized" to handle the matter.

Lozada said the Taiwanese are taking the position that the fishermen were not entering Philippine territory because the area where the shooting took place is overlapping the claims of both Taiwan and the Philippines.

He said the Taiwanese government's statement will test the Philippines' resolve on the one-China policy while also showing a strong image that it can protect its citizens.

Not the first time

Lozada also noted that it is not the first time that Taipei has imposed sanctions against the Philippines.

He said that during the time of President Estrada, Taipei barred Philippine Airlines (PAL) and other Philippine carriers from flying to Taiwan for 2 months. This meant that passengers to Taiwan had to go to Hong Kong, Singapore and Macau first.

"Of course PAL lost a lot of money. I was one of those tasked to go to Taipei and negotiate with the Taiwanese quietly to lift the restriction on Philippine Airlines and other airlines coming from Manila," he said.

Lozada said the sanctions imposed by Taiwan have no diplomatic effect since the Philippines adheres to a one-China policy. He said sending any official from the Department of Foreign Affairs to Taipei will be a violation of that policy, and risk angering China.

"If we are going to touch that and use that kind of decision to send anybody or let our [Department of Foreign Affairs] react to this incident, then we will be really asking the Chinese also to complain. You have to balance between our political relations with the bigger China and our economic and labor relations with Taiwan. We have to have a win-win solution here," he said.