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Taiwan critical of Manila's deportation of its nationals to China

2019/02/12 12:08:55

Photo courtesy of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines

Taipei, Feb. 12 (CNA) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) on Tuesday expressed its grave concern and regret to the Philippines after Manila deported seven Taiwanese fraud suspects to China that morning.

It was the second time in less than a year that the Philippines had sent Taiwanese nationals to China despite urgings from Taipei not to do so.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) deputy spokesperson Joanne Ou (歐江安) said Taiwan had repeatedly called on the Philippines since the suspects were arrested in October 2018 to respect their wishes and honor the nationality principle by deporting them back to Taiwan.

Under strong pressure from Beijing, however, Manila ultimately decided to deport the Taiwanese nationals to the other side of the Taiwan Strait.

The ministry has asked Taiwan's representative office in Manila to express the country's grave concern and regret over the decision to the Philippine government.

The ministry, meanwhile, urged Taiwanese citizens to not engage in illicit activates overseas, including telecommunications fraud, to avoid facing prosecution and damaging the nation's image.

According to MOFA, the seven ROC citizens are among a group of 13 Taiwanese arrested last October in Dingras in the province of Ilocos Norte.

They were apprehended along with 12 other foreign nationals by the Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP-ACG) for allegedly being part of a telecom fraud ring.

According to Taiwan's representative office in Manila, the remaining six Taiwanese suspects have other legal cases in the Philippines that are ongoing, and they will not be vulnerable to being sent to China until those cases are cleared.

A similar incident occurred on April 4, 2018, when 78 Taiwanese fraud suspects arrested in the Philippines were sent to China.

They were among 158 individuals arrested on Jan. 13 that same year for alleged involvement in fraudulent telecom activities. The deportation also drew strong protests from Taiwan's government.

At the time, the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO), the Philippines representative office in Taiwan, said the Taiwanese suspects were sent to China because the case was cracked through the joint efforts of the Philippines Department of Justice and Chinese police.

It said the decision was in line with an Interpol Red Alert issued in relation to the suspects.

The suspects needed to be tried in China because all of the victims lived there and all the evidence was collected there, MECO said in a statement after the decision was made at that time.

(By Joseph Yeh)