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Filipino workers line up as Taiwan lifts sanctions
Publication Date : 13-08-2013
A large number of Filipinos applied for work visas at the Taiwan representative office in the Philippines yesterday, the first day that the office was open since Taiwan's sanctions against the Philippines were lifted over the weekend.
The maritime dispute over the Philippine Coast Guards' shooting of Taiwanese fishing vessel Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28 appeared to approach an end on August 8, when Taiwan lifted the sanctions.
The Filipinos arrived at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines yesterday, eager to apply for visas to enter Taiwan for work. The Filipinos at the office said they appreciated Taiwan lifting the sanctions and hoped that relations between the two countries would not again be strained.
Unsatisfied with the Philippine government's handling of the dispute, Taiwan launched 11 sanctions against the Philippines in May. The sanctions were lifted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which means the Council of Labor Affairs will now again admit new workers from the Philippines.
Although sanctions were lifted on August 8, Filipinos had not been able to apply for working visas until yesterday. August 9 was Eid al-Fitr, an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of Ramadan, and a Philippine national holiday. Monday was the first day the embassy was open after the long weekend.
Despite the typhoon in the Philippines, many Filipinos gathered at the embassy. The embassy estimated that up to 111 people applied for visas in the morning yesterday.
A labour broker for Filipino workers said she was happy that the relationship between Taiwan and the Philippines has normalised. Many Filipinos borrowed money or even sold their houses to gather enough money to come to Taiwan, the broker said, adding that interest payments have been a huge burden for them. Now that the sanctions have been lifted, both labourers and brokers can benefit, the broker added.
A Filipino man said it is not easy to find work in the Philippines, but working abroad will allow him to feed his family. “Every working day counts,” the man said.