By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora
MANILA — A ranking diplomat on Thursday night hailed the 150,000 Filipino workers in Taiwan for their contribution to the island’s growth and economic development, as it commemorates the Wuchang Uprising that led to the end of the Qing Dynasty in China.
“Taiwan’s impressive development would not be possible without the 150,000 Filipino nationals who work in Taiwan and contribute to our society,” its representative to the Philippines, Michael Peiyung Hsu, said during Taiwan’s national day reception in Manila.
Hsu said the “close bond and friendship” between Taiwan and the Philippines is a “major factor” behind its “outstanding” growth over the past year.
In terms of competitiveness, Taiwan was ranked 13th in the world and fourth in Asia last year by the World Economic Forum.
In the Philippines, he said, Taiwan wants to increase its trade and investment under its New Southbound Policy, which seeks to connect the island across the developing states of Southeast Asia.
On tourism, Hsu said Taiwan is also targeting some 500,000 visitors from the Philippines as he urged Filipinos to take advantage of Taipei’s two-week visa-free program.
Meanwhile, he sent his sympathies to the families of the fishermen who died following the collapse of a bridge in Yilan last week.
“These enterprising Filipinos sacrificed so much for their families, but it was with shock and sadness that I learned of a number of Filipino fishermen who were killed or injured in the collapse of a bridge in Yilan last week,” Hsu said.
“On behalf of the government and people of Taiwan, I would like to express my heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families of these fishermen, and I assure you that our government is doing everything in its power to make sure those affected are given necessary care and assistance,” he added.
On Thursday, no less than Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen visited injured Filipino, Jhon Royo, at a hospital in Taiwan.
This year, Taiwan, in cooperation with the Department of Agriculture, has concluded the construction of a button mushroom demonstration farm in Baguio City.
“We are expecting our first harvest by the end of this month. Our next step is to expand this model to other parts of the Philippines,” Hsu said.
Aside from this, Taipei helped build 400 housing units in support of the government’s Bangon Marawi initiative.
“Taiwan continues to work with non-government organizations, such as World Vision, the Tzu-Chi Foundation, and Taiwan Root Medical Peace Corps, to provide support to disadvantaged groups in the Philippines. I understand that a 22-member medical mission from Taiwan is back to Manila from General Santos City, where they distributed free medical services,” he said.
“These are concrete examples of our efforts to advance people-centered relations with the Philippines,” he noted as he wished President Rodrigo R. Duterte “the best of health” and stronger friendship between the people of Taiwan and the Philippines.
Joining the reception was Manila Economic and Cultural Office chairman Angelito Banayo. (PNA)