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Immigration officials to raise safety awareness among Filipinos

2013/05/20 23:03:01

Taipei, May 20 (CNA) Immigration officials will visit places with large Filipino populations in the coming days to raise safety awareness among Filipinos amidst the row between Taiwan and the Philippines, the National Immigration Agency (NIA) said Monday.

The officials will go to popular gathering spots for Filipino workers or factories that have many Filipino employees, the agency said, adding that the visits could start in New Taipei as soon as the following day.

“We will update them on the current situation, remind them to take safety precautions and provide them with contact information for the relevant authorities if they feel their safety is at risk,” said Kuo Wei-chi, captain of the agency’s New Taipei City Specialized Operations Brigade.

Filipinos in Taiwan are advised to only go to public places in groups instead of alone, to keep a low profile, avoid conflict and call the police if they are harassed, the agency said.

It said it will also ask companies that employ Filipino workers to protect the safety of their workers and enhance security at their places of residence.

There are currently around 90,000 Filipino workers in Taiwan and 7,500 Filipinos married to Taiwanese nationals, according to government statistics.

NIA Director-General Hsieh Li-kung a day earlier called on the Taiwanese public to refrain from violent or irrational behavior toward Filipinos in Taiwan.

The diplomatic row was triggered by the killing of 65-year-old Taiwanese fisherman Hung Shih-cheng when a Philippine government patrol boat opened fire on his unarmed fishing boat May 9 in waters where the exclusive economic zones of the two countries overlap.

As tensions have risen, Taiwanese and Philippine media have reported that some Filipinos in Taiwan have been harassed or discriminated against.

The National Police Agency said Monday that it had received three reports of Philippine nationals being attacked.

The most recent case involved several Taiwanese youths who attacked a Filipino worker at his dormitory and damaged property in the dormitory in northern Taiwan’s Hsinchu County a day earlier.

The Hsinchu police said, however, that one of the youths claimed that he assaulted the Filipino worker because he thought he was being laughed at, and that the attack was not incited by the dispute between Taiwan and the Philippines.

President Ma Ying-jeou has also appealed to local people not to vent their anger at the Filipinos living in the country.

(By Christie Chen)