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MECO calls for calm amid Han's "Marias" remarks

2019/03/12 11:18:03

Han Kuo-yu/CNA file photo

Taipei, March 12 (CNA) The de facto Philippines embassy in Taiwan on Monday called for calm in the wake of a recent controversial statement by Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) in which he referred to Filipinos as "Marias," considered by many to be a racial slur, followed by an apology.

"In light of the honorable mayor's public apology, we fervently hope that the matter would be laid to rest and placed behind us, as we move on towards greater cooperation and stronger friendly relations," the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) Chairman and Resident Representative Angelito T. Banayo was quoted as saying in a statement issued late Monday.

In the statement, titled "Let bygones be bygones," Banayo said it was released amid the ongoing social media frenzy and debate over Han's public statements, which angered the Filipino community.

"I wish to extend to Mayor Han our renewed assurances of support towards strengthening ties with the people of Kaohsiung and achieving our common development goals," Banayo said.

MECO previously wrote to Han to express "deep regret" after the latter's remarks against the hiring of "Marias," referring to Filipinos, as English teachers.

On March 9, Han apologized for the remarks, saying he did not intend to denigrate the Filipino people.

Han said he was sorry for the misunderstanding caused by his misuse of the term and looks forward to future cooperation with the Philippines.

According to MECO, Taiwan presently hosts around 150,000 workers from the Philippines. While most are factory workers, some have qualified for English teaching jobs, it said.

MECO currently has programs that train Filipino workers and expatriates to teach English and Filipino in local schools. Its tourism programs likewise promote English as a Second Language (ESL) tours in the Philippines to Taiwanese, it added.

(By Joseph Yeh)