MECO laments Philippines' listing as 2nd most hated country in Taiwanese survey

MECO issues statement lamenting listing of Philippines as 2nd most hated country by Taiwanese

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Philippine flag and dislike button.

Philippine flag and dislike button. (By Wikimedia Commons)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Many Taiwanese and Filipino netizens alike are perplexed by the results of a survey by the Taiwan Public Opinion Foundation released on June 17, which listed the Philippines as the second-most-hated country by Taiwanese respondents.

The poll, released by the non-governmental and non-profit institute, revealed that Taiwanese respondents most hate North Korea at 70.9 percent, followed by the Philippines (52.9 percent), China (43.9 percent), South Korea (33.8 percent) and Russia (29.7 percent). The country that Taiwanese like the most is Singapore at 88.2 percent, followed by Japan (84.5 percent), Canada (82.3 percent), the European Union (74.8 percent) and the United States (70.6 percent) rounding out the top five.

What is concerning to the 150,000 Filipinos working in Taiwan is that the Philippines was second only to North Korea in terms of most hated nations, a majority at 52.9 percent dislike the Philippines and they hated the country even more than China, despite its constant bullying.

In response to the results of the survey, the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO), the Philippines' de facto embassy in Taiwan, on June 29 issued a statement that it lamented the outcome, but that it would continue to strive to promote cooperation between Manila and Taipei, reported ABS-CBN News. In the statement, MECO Chairman Angelito Banayo said:

"While the result of the survey is truly lamentable, we will continue to strive in our efforts to promote cooperation between the Philippines and Taiwan."

Banayo said that his government would like to get the bottom of why so many respondents had a negative impression of Taiwan's close neighbor. MECO would also like to know the demographics of the survey's respondents and the exact wording of the questions, according to Banayo.

Despite the negative outcome of the survey, the Taiwanese government 11 days later announced that it was extending visa-free entry to Filipinos for another year.

Many netizens have been perplexed by the outcome as there have been no recent major conflicts between the two nations for a number of years. The only recent clash that many netizens and outlets such as ABS-CBN News have cited as a possibility was the May 2013 Guang Da Xing No. 28 incident, in which a 65-year-old Taiwanese fisherman Hung Shih-cheng (洪石成) was killed by Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) officers when they opened fire on their vessel off Batanes.

The shooting took place 180 nautical miles southeast of the southernmost tip of Taiwan, a location that is east of several inhabited Philippine islands and much closer to the Philippines than to Taiwan. But the location is where Taiwan and the Philippines exclusive economic zones overlap and like many jurisdictions around the world, Taiwan and the Philippines have not negotiated clear boundaries for that region.

In March of this year, the Philippines announced that it will start building a marine base on its northern most uninhabited island Mavulis, which is the closest island to Taiwan, in order to boost its defense strategy and to deter illegal fishing from its waters.

In a speech delivered in September of last year, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte listed Taiwan as a country where many of his country's illegal drugs are coming from, riling some in Taiwan for exaggerating Taiwan's role in the drug trade, while leaving out major players such as China.