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PNoy: We did right in deporting 14 Taiwanese to China

President Benigno Aquino III reiterated Tuesday that the Philippine government made the right decision in deporting the 14 Taiwanese nationals to China, and that he will not apologize for sticking to that decision. “I did give instructions na medyo me problema tayo sa [that we see some problem with] apologies. Given the facts available at that time, the decision I believe was sound," he told reporters after attending activities at Camp Aguinaldo in connection with the 25th anniversary of the 1986 EDSA People Power uprising. Taiwan officials warned that they will impose severe measures on Filipinos seeking work in the island-state “if the negotiations on the deportation row are not going as well as expected." (See: Report: Taipei warns of more severe sanctions vs PHL workers) Some 80,000 Filipinos are working in Taiwan, which the government of the People’s Republic of China considers as a “renegade province". The Philippine government has no official diplomatic ties with Taiwan, and maintains informal relations through the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) and its Taiwanese counterpart, the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office (TECO). Aquino said he has yet to talk with former senator Manuel Roxas II, the emissary he sent to Taiwan, on the final outcome of the discussions with the Taiwanese officials. The President had earlier announced that Roxas, his vice-presidential running mate in the May 2010 elections, would serve as his “chief troubleshooter." “From yesterday we have been in constant touch, there was supposed to be a factsheet on points that they agreed to synthesize the thoughts of both sides. I have yet to hear from [Roxas] …on the final outcome of the discussions," Aquino said. Roxas arrived in the Taiwanese capital Taipei on Monday to explain Manila’s side on the deportation of Taiwanese nationals who were suspected members of a fraud ring on February 2. The former senator returned to the country Tuesday afternoon and is set to brief the President on the matter, followed by a press conference with Malacañang reporters on Wednesday. In a press briefing earlier in the day, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said it would be presumptuous for the administration to immediately apologize “for something which we don’t know if we have violated anything." He added that “to apologize right now would be implying that we have already committed a mistake when we have yet to determine the processes," explaining that “there is still an investigation going on." “Based on the account made by [Justice] Sec. Leila de Lima, there was a red flag from the Interpol and when their identification was being requested, they failed to present proper identification and in that regard, we did what was the proper thing to do," he said. Meanwhile, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago agreed with the Palace position, saying that once we issue an apology to Taiwan, "China will demand an explanation from us, and then well lurch from one crisis to another in diplomatic relations." "We do not mean to imply that we are casting a slur on its status of statehood, but we are being consistent with the One China policy. Our policy is that there is only one China, and that Taiwan is only a province of China," Santiago explained Tuesday in a release sent to media. "So we just have to explain to them [Taiwanese leadership] we are not interfering with the internal affairs of China. We are only pursuing our duties under international law. On that matter we do not make a clear decision on who is right. We are simply being consistent with a policy we have announced long ago. There is no need to rehash the whole thing over and over," she added.–Amita O. Legaspi/JV, GMANews.TV