By Roy Mabasa
The government of Taiwan on Tuesday expressed its “solemn concern” and “deep regret” over the Philippine government’s forced deportation to China of seven Taiwanese nationals who were facing alleged telecom fraud charges.
In a statement, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Manila said Philippine authorities deported the seven Taiwanese nationals to Mainland China on February 12 instead of sending them back to Taiwan for further judicial investigation.
“When the incident happened on October 24, 2018, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of the Republic of China (Taiwan) immediately instructed the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines to urge the Philippine Government to handle this case with caution and abide by the Nationality Principle as well as respect the wish of the ROC nationals concerned by deporting them back to Taiwan for further judicial investigation based on the due process of law. The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines has also conducted consular visits to the ROC nationals concerned to ensure their legal rights and personal safety,” the Taiwanese government said in the statement.
It also expressed its “regret” over the Philippines’ act of “totally disregarding the international norms and principles as well as ignoring the rights of the citizens of the Republic of China.”
At the same time, Taiwan’s MFA also called on all its nationals “not to try to take the risk of engaging in illegal activities, including telecom fraud, overseas.”
“Such activities are liable to result in imprisonment, which not only destroys one’s own future but also tarnishes the image of Taiwan,” it added.
Further, it urges the Philippine government to continuously implement mutual legal assistance with Taiwan and to jointly fight transnational crime based on the “existing good practices” through joint efforts to crack down on cross-border crime.
On October 24, 2018, elements of the Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group arrested a total of 13 Taiwanese, 2 Chinese, and 7 Filipinos in Dingras, Ilocos Norte for alleged telecom fraud.
Reports said the PNP, armed with a search warrant issued By Judge Maria Victoria Soriano-Villadolid of the Regional Trial Court Branch 24 of Manila, conducted the raid after they received a complaint from unnamed representatives of the Chinese government on the illegal activity of the suspects.