POSTSCRIPT / February 13, 2011 / Sunday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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One-China policy held hostage by OFW jitters?

DEPORTATION: As most Filipinos are more concerned with jobs, food and money than with such esoteric issues as sovereignty and protocol, Malacañang is hard-pressed to justify at street level the deportation of 14 undesirable aliens to China.

It was a deportation, not extradition. Deportation, a summary process, is a function of the Executive. Malacañang by itself decides if an alien should be deported and acts quickly.

The courts are generally out of it, unless the lawyers of the aliens move fast to buy a TRO (temporary restraining order) and manage to transfer the case to a waiting judge.

It could not have been extradition, a more complicated process, because we have no extradition treaty with either China or Taiwan.

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COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: In deportation, the undesirable aliens are sent back to their country of origin. If they are Malaysians they are deported to Malaysia, if Americans to the United States and if Chinese to China.

A political subdivision of the deportee’s country cannot be the receiving end. If a citizen of California is deported to the US, he is not sent to Sacramento but into the waiting arms of federal (not state) authorities wherever they choose to accept the deportee.

If the deportee is Chinese, he is sent to China, not to Taiwan or any other place of his choice.

So the crucial issue is not if there are Filipino workers in Taiwan, but if the 14 deportees are Chinese.

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IDENTITY PAPERS: If their citizenship or nationality cannot be ascertained immediately during the summary proceedings, records are checked for their last port of embarkation which is then considered their point of origin.

Reports attributed to the Department of Justice, under which the immigration bureau operates, said that the aliens had incomplete documentation but the authorities were able to determine that they were Chinese.

Documentation could include a passport, which is prima facie proof of citizenship. Those who carried Chinese passports could be deported to China without much problem.

As for those who had no papers, authorities would have discretion deciding if the aliens were indeed Chinese. If the aliens admitted being Chinese – or if documentation from China identified them as Chinese — they could be validly sent back to China.

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CRIME RING: That the representative of Taiwan in Manila tried to produce travel and/or identity papers has been rendered moot by the summary deportation.

There appears to be no law limiting the period within which the Executive may deport aliens found by proper authorities to be undesirable.

The deportees are not innocent tourists. They have been found to be part of a well-organized crime syndicate victimizing wealthy Chinese.

If some of them carried “Taiwanese” passports, they could still be deported to China under the One-China policy. From our diplomatic and legal point of view, there is only one China — and Taiwan is part of it.

A Chinese is not to be deported to Taiwan, a mere political and geographical subdivision of China, but to whereBeijing authorities want to receive him.

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HELD HOSTAGE: That their deportation to China may endanger the employment of some 70,000 Filipinos in Taiwan is unfortunate, if true. But it has nothing to do with the deportation process.

Whenever an issue erupts with another country, do we tremble and lay aside our lawful and sovereign interests the moment somebody screams that there are Filipinos in that country?

That is the humiliating price we have to pay for being poor, ill-governed and unable to provide decent livelihood for our industrious citizens.

But if we freeze in fright whenever some overseas Filipino workers are threatened with dismissal, we would be hostage forever to the entire developed world. Millions of Filipinos in search of means to support their families are all over the globe.

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U.N. DOWNGRADING: In keeping with present-day realities, I refer to Taiwan as Taiwan, not by its old label of Republic of China under which it signed as a founder-member of the then United Nations Organization in 1945.

After it was replaced in 1971 by the People’s Republic of China as the sole representative in the United Nations of the Chinese people, Republic of China (Taiwan) repeatedly tried with diminishing degree of success to hold on to meaningful involvement in UN activities.

With the growing influence of China, Taiwan’s status in the UN became increasingly untenable despite efforts of its allies, especially the US, to rally support for its keeping its standing in the world body.

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MARCOS DID IT: As client-state of the US, the Philippines largely hewed to the China line drawn by Washington.

But in June 1975, the Philippines under President Marcos beat the US in establishing diplomatic relations with Beijing — aided by the charm diplomacy applied on chairman Mao Zedong by first lady Imelda Marcos.

Although the US first enunciated a One-China policy in the Shanghai Communiqué of 1972, it was only in 1979 that US President Jimmy Carter broke off relations with the Republic of China (Taiwan) to establish ties with Beijing.

In November 2009, by the way, President Barack Obama in a talk with Chinese students confirmed that the US supports the One-China policy.

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RECALL OF ENVOYS: Among other ways, a state can extend recognition to another state by sending a plenipotentiary ambassador. An exchange of ambassadors completes the mutual recognition.

When Manila broke off full diplomatic relations with Taipeh, it called home its ambassador and downgraded its embassy in Taiwan to a mere economic and commercial liaison office. Taipeh did the same in Manila.

In a parallel sense, the recent recall of the chief of Taiwan’s liaison office in Manila to show displeasure over the deportation of 14 Chinese can be likened to a recall-protest and a disruption of normal relations.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of February 13, 2011)

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