Taipei Must Not Tolerate the Philippines' Behavior
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
February 8, 2011
Despite vehement protests from Taipei, and an order from Philippine courts, the Philippine government will extradite 14 Republic of China citizens suspected of fraud to the Chinese Mainland. This move is contrary to international conventions. It is also an affront to our nation's sovereignty. It is intolerable. Taipei can no longer suffer in silence, Yesterday the government announced the recall of its representatives in the Philippines, and imposed strict measures on Filipino workers. We fully support the government's actions.
Last October the Ministry of Public Security sent officials to the Philippines to investigate phone fraud, The Philippines police arrested a 24 person confidence ring, 14 of whom were ROC citizens. We strongly support the principle of dealing with suspects on the basis of nationality. The 14 ROC citizens should be handed over to Taipei, to be dealt with according to ROC law, But the Philippine government has has insisted that these suspects be handed over to Beijing. On February 2, in the middle of the night, it turned them over to Beijing. Our government's representatives in the Philippines, along with Philippine officials and Philippine lawyers, rushed to the airport with a writ of habeas corpus, issued by the Philippine Court of Appeals, Alas, they were unable to prevent the executive branch of the Philippine government from turning the suspects over to Mainland Chinese security officials. This action flouted international conventions. It disregarded an order issued by the Philippine courts. The Philippine government behaved arrogantly. It cared only about Beijing, and nothing for Taipei, Its behavior was intolerable.
Manila has no diplomatic relations with Taipei. But international practice and international cooperation in the fight against crime involves certain precedents. Manila must respect Taipei's judicial sovereignty. When similar incidents occurred in the past, suspects from Taiwan were handed over to Taipei, suspects from the Mainland were handed over to Beijing, Each side conducted its own investigations and trials. The two sides have signed a "joint crime fighting and mutual legal assistance agreement," and have agreed to exchange case information. They have agreed to separately enforce court judgments and other judicial rulings.
Taipei has not asked for special treatment from Manila. It merely wants matters handled the way they always have, in accordance with international precedents. But the Philippine government's handling of the matter has been ridiculous. Its decisions have defied international conventions. Its methods have harmed Taipei's interests. Its attitude has been rude and arrogant. Its procedures have defied the orders of its own courts. It has repeatedly turned a deaf ear to Taipei's requests. It has ignored Taipei's interests. It handed a suspect from Taiwan over to Beijing, as if Taiwan was under the jurisdiction of the Beijing authorities. This is an insult to Taipei's sovereignty, How can ROC citizens not be angry?
Since the incident, senior government officials have lodged repeated protests. They have taken retaliatory measures. Apparently the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Yesterday the Philippines adopted a more conciliatory attitude. It issued a statement expressing "deep regret." It hoped the incident would not harm the close friendship between the two peoples. It explained that in this case the victims were Mainland Chinese, the accomplices were Mainland Chinese, Therefore the Philippine government felt it was appropriate that the case be tried in Mainland China. That is why it decided to extradite the suspects to Mainland China. Beijing and Manila have an extradition treaty. Manila has also signed a joint agreement with Beijing. The two sides would fight crime and follow judicial interaction protocols. They would work together to bring the current case to a close.
Initially the Philippines ignored strong protests from Taipei. Now that Taipei is angry and on the verge of retaliation, the Philippines is finally beginning to take notice and speak of "long-term friendship and common values" shared by Taipei and Manila. Manila failed to communicate properly before extraditing the suspects. It ignored Taipei's feelings. The extradition is a fait accompli. The Philippines seems to think that if it offers a few platitudes, the matter will blow over. The 14 suspects have been transferred to Mainland China. How will the matter be handled henceforth? Taipei will have to confront Beijing, It is no longer Manila's affair.
If Taipei allows the matter to drop, the international community will view it with contempt. The Philippines' assumption that Taipei can be treated with contempt will not change. More importantly, a precedent will have been set in the international community. This will leave the mistaken impression that Taipei's judicial affairs may be turned over to Beijing. The Repubic of China' status as an independent and sovereign state will be undermined. Taipei is attempting to defend the Republic of China's sovereignty. It is attempting to defend the Republic of China's national interests. It hopes to participate in the international community, on the basis of equality. If the international community concludes that Beijing is authorized to manage Taipei's affairs, then all of Taipei's efforts will be undermined.
Therefore, Taipei must not tolerate the Philippines' behavior. Consider the current incident. Taipei and Beijing cooperate on judicial matters. Yet suspects from Taiwan are turned over to Beijing. If the two sides subsequently deal with the matter in accordance with cross-Strait conventions, the matter will be perceived as a PRC internal affair. This is totally unacceptable.
Taipei's international agreements must not be made through Beijing. Beijing is not Taipei's master. This must be made clear. The international community must realize this. Mainland Chinese public security officials may not appreciate the delicacy of cross-Strait interactions. But their higher ups surely have a more comprehensive understanding. Cross-Strait judicial cooperation agreements do not cover third country involvement. Future cross-Strait agreements must be clarified, as soon as possible, This will ensure that similar incidents do not happen again.