International Migrants Alliance appeals for protection of Filipino workers in Taiwan

"Filipino migrants are innocent; they should be protected," the Hong Kong-based International Migrants Alliance said Saturday amid reports of continuing discrimination against and physical attacks on Filipino workers in Taiwan.

In a statement, IMA chair Eni Lestari called on the Manila and Taipei governments to immediately resolve diplomatically the conflict that arose from the May 9 killing of a Taiwanese fisherman by Philippine Coast Guard personnel.

"If any more untoward incident happens to any Filipino migrant in Taiwan because of this delay in resolution of the conflict, the IMA holds both the Taiwanese and Philippine governments responsible," she said.

Lestari, an Indonesian domestic worker, said IMA had also received reports of Filipino migrants experiencing physical harm and other discriminatory acts from Taiwanese locals.

"This should stop. No physical attack or any act of racist discrimination should be done or condoned," she said, adding, "The Filipino migrants in Taiwan do not only contribute to the welfare of their loved ones and families back home. They too contribute to the economy of Taiwan and attend to the needs of the families they work for in Taiwan."

Lestari said that while anger in Taiwan over the action of the Philippine government may be justified, the Taiwanese government should also be responsible for protecting the Filipino migrant workers residing on the island.

"We strongly urge Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou to strengthen protection for Filipino migrants and alert its respective agencies in extending support to anyone, especially Filipino migrants, who would experience any untoward incident," she said.

The IMA also warned against Taiwan closing the Manila Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei, which acts as the Philippines' de facto embassy on the island. The group said withdrawing the Meco from Taiwan would only put the Filipino migrant workers in "grave danger."

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