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  • Nov 23, 2014
  • Updated: 5:33pm

Former envoy Lauro Baja tells Taiwan to 'remember who its friends are'

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 May, 2013, 4:49am

A former top Philippines diplomat has urged Taiwan to "remember who its friends are", in comments that appear to suggest Taiwan is ungrateful for Manila's longstanding support for its political autonomy.

"Taiwan should remember we were the first ones to have these informal relations with them and we have substantial relations with them in terms of trade," said Lauro Baja, the former Philippines ambassador to the United Nations.

Baja said he decided to speak out as a citizen because of what he perceived was Taiwan's "overreaction" to the death of one of its fishermen on May 9 when a Philippines coastguard vessel fired at a Taiwanese fishing boat that Manila said was inside Philippine territory.

Baja said that, contrary to Taipei's claims that the incident occurred in disputed territory, Taiwan had long recognised the area as a part of Philippine waters.

"If you recall, during the time of [President] Cory Aquino, there was some sort of corridor established for Taiwanese fishermen" to pass through that area, he said. But Baja, once foreign affairs undersecretary for policy, did not know the status of that agreement because "it came from Malacanang Palace and did not pass through the DFA [Department of Foreign Affairs]".

"With their entity being a province of China, giving sanctions and refusing to receive the representative of the president, what is that? Sometimes I feel we have these things coming to us because of our very timid diplomacy," Baja said.

Rex Robles, a retired Philippine Navy commodore and security consultant, also pointed to the corridor agreement as proof that Taiwan recognises Philippine sovereignty over that area.

"I think everyone has forgotten about the safety corridor which Cory Aquino signed during her term. It allowed Taiwanese fishermen to pass through Philippine waters on their way to the Pacific Ocean," he said.

Robles said if Taiwan believed the area was theirs, in the first place, "why will they sign that MOU [Memorandum of Understanding]?"

Robles said he was "puzzled over the Taiwanese government's overreaction" and called for a thorough probe.

Outrage over Taiwan's Manila bashing and reported incidents of violence against Filipinos in Taipei spilled over yesterday to the social media.

Rafael Alunan, a businessman and former cabinet minister, wrote on Facebook: "China will take over Taiwan one of these days, and I will not shed a tear. Even without that formal takeover, they seem to be in bed together applying the same tactics against us and Japan in our respective territories."

International law expert Harry Roque noted that Taiwan has no legal leg to demand a fishing agreement with Manila because "Taiwan is not an independent state and should not expect to be treated as such".


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This article is now closed to comments

The Philippines appears to have overestimated its own worth on the regional and global diplomatic stage. Throwing its weight around with Hong Kong during and after the Manila hostage crisis was one thing. Playing chicken with Beijing and Taipei is quite another. Did Aquino honestly believe the United States would come to his rescue after having shot at an unarmed fishing vessel?
Mr. Baja, friends don't shoot each others citizens. Perhaps the Philippine government ought to remember who their friends are, lest they soon find themselves without any.
Hey, a "friend"? whom kills your fisherman making an honest living and turn around tried to make the fisherman the "bad guy"?
Please put the so called "corridor agreement/MOU" under the spot-light for all to judge.
Taiwan has signed a fishing agreement with Japan regardlessly whether or not Taiwan is an independent state, no reason why this can not be duplicated with a "friend" like Phillipines, the key here is whether Manila values human life and do the decent thing in establishing an agreement with Taiwan so no further lives are to be loss moving forward.
if filipinos are the scums of asia, what about taiwanese and chinese drug lords and cyber criminals that operate and use the philippines for their international operations? just few months ago the philippines have deported about almost 300 taiwanese and chinese online scammers. google: 279 taiwanese deported for cybercrimes in the philippines to start with.
Please think about why these criminals choose to use Philippines as the base of their operation? Because they believe they could get away from their wrong doings in the Philippines.
Why would Philippines give people the impression that they can get away with crime? It is worth a thought.
The drug lords should be put away forever and the cyber-criminals shall be duely punished regardless of their nationalities.
The US has also said that it is up to Taipei to decide what form of apology from Manila would be sincere and acceptable. It is clear that the US understand that Philippine has created the trouble this time, but since US have formal relationship with Philippine but not Taiwan, they could not side with the Taiwanese.
If US is truly backing Philippines on this killing, then it is strange that the US have not respond on the Taiwan Navy exercise in the disputed waters and no words from the US on the sanctions applied by Taiwan. US interest is about themselves, they care less about Philippines or Taiwan, their main concern is on China.
TAIWANESE WAKE UP: Hindi ata alam ng Taiwanese na ang PILIPINAS ay mahigpit na tagapagtanggol sa kanilang karapatan doon sa UN laban sa China..
Filipinos are the scums of Asia. Lawlessness and corruptions are their trademark. Only some idiots in Hong Kong still had the cheek to harbor PR status for the Pinoy maids.They should be repatriated every few years,or better still pack them off to Singapore where foreign talents are much appreciated.
Friends don't steal from each other and trespass on each other's property either.
The US has already refused not once, but twice, to condemn the Philippines, despite heavy pressure and manipulation from Taiwan to do so. I think that says enough about which side the US is on.
Regarding having no friends, I think Taiwan and China would know a thing or two about that. Taiwan is not recognized as a sovereign state by almost the entire planet, while China's extreme territorial aggression, imperialist profiteering in Africa, complete disregard for the intellectual property of other countries, destruction of the environment, nonexistent human rights, and apparent love of producing defective and dangerous products are not endearing it to the world either.


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