[Editorial] Blame is misplaced in deportation row
Published : Feb 25, 2011 - 18:03
Updated : Feb 25, 2011 - 18:03
The Philippines sent a special envoy to Taipei on Monday to explain away a misunderstanding in regard to its deportation of 14 Taiwanese nationals to China rather than Taiwan for trial on fraud charges. Manuel Roxas, a former senator and confidant of Filipino President Benigno Aquino III, refused to apologize on Wednesday for what Manila calls a regrettable incident.

It all started right after 24 suspects were rounded up in Manila last Dec. 27 for cheating people on the Chinese mainland out of 140 million yuan, or $20 million. Only 10 of them are Chinese. But Manila sent them all to China on Feb. 2. Taipei felt affronted, recalled its representative in Manila, and suspended processing visa applications for Filipino migrant workers desiring to come to Taiwan. A diplomatic issue of this kind occurs from time to time, and usually, it can be settled without either side being seriously harmed, unless Taiwan’s free and not so responsible press continues to encourage politicians blaming the authorities concerned for trying to sell out Taiwan’s sovereignty.

The press failed to tell the readership the crime was not committed in Taiwan. But on learning they had been arrested, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned Antonio Basilio, Filipino representative in Taipei, twice to express concern. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs called a meeting of representatives of all government agencies concerned to reach a decision on how to cope with the threatened deportation of all 24 suspects from the Philippines to the People’s Republic. No decision could be reached, however. Only after the deportation did Taipei protest and take “punitive” action against the Philippines.

Politicians, those of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party in particular, blamed the foreign ministry and other government agencies related for failure to take prompt action, claiming it was solely due to the Beijing-leaning or “love-China” policies President Ma Ying-jeou is alleged to continue following. The failure resulted in turning the issue into one between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, they pointed out. By so doing, one top opposition party leader charged that Ma was trying to sell out his country’s sovereignty. They are placing the blame in the wrong place.

No decision could be reached on how to cope with the case without weighing the pros and cons of getting the 14 suspects back to Taipei for trial, because they did not commit the crime in Taiwan. Of course, none of the very critical opponents know what happened in Taipei in the summer of 1970. Early in that year, Quentin and Rizal Yuyitung, publisher and managing editor of the Chinese language Commercial News, respectively, were arrested by the Filipino law-enforcement authorities on charges of instigating anti-government riots in the Philippines under President Ferdinand Marcos’ martial law. Marcos had a hard time finding a way to try and convict the brothers, while Taiwan’s national security agents in Manila thought they might take the hot potato off his hands to please him as well as President Chiang Kai-shek. So they had the Yuyitung brothers extradited from Manila to Taipei for an open trial by a special military tribunal on charges of aiding and abetting the Chinese Communists.

The Taiwan Garrison General Headquarters formed a military tribunal to try them on sedition charges on Aug. 14. The court found both defendants guilty as charged and sentenced Quentin and Rizal to two and three years of re-education, respectively. One current and two former International Press Institute presidents were present at the trial as observers. The military authorities cited the Republic of China’s law of blood relationship, known as jus sanguinis, as the legal basis for claiming the right to try the two Chinese citizens although the crime had been committed in the Philippines. The authorities ruled that as the country adopted jus sanguinis, the Yuyitung brothers, born in the Philippines of a male Chinese parent, automatically acquired Chinese citizenship and the application of its criminal law should be extended to them. The international press covered the trial and raised an indignant outcry about the officially sanctioned lynching.

Should Taipei press for Taiwan’s jurisdiction over the repatriation case on the sole basis of jus sanguinis, it might catch the attention of the world again. There’s another consideration the authorities have to dwell upon. The ten Chinese suspects, extradited to China, may all be executed. The 14 suspects may be similarly doomed. The only thing Taipei could do was to file protests and then to negotiate with Beijing on how to get the Taiwanese suspects back for trial so that they may not face the firing squad. What the authorities are doing is a humanitarian rescue endeavor, not selling out Taiwan’s sovereignty. 

( The China Post (Taiwan))

(Asia News Network)