TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — More than 400 Filipino workers of I-Mei Foods Company have petitioned the Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to lift the travel ban on Taiwan, reported Filipino media outlet ABS-CBN News on Thursday (Feb. 13).
In the letter, the Filipino workers are asking their government to allow its nationals to come to Taiwan, especially those who have existing contracts, according to the news outlet. They express their concern that the Philippines' travel restrictions on Taiwan may prevent some of them from complying with their contracts, as many are currently home for vacation.
The news outlet cited Jack Cheng, a senior I-Mei adviser, as saying that I-Mei only hires Filipino workers and has no other foreign employees; therefore, the travel ban would have a massive effect on the company. The problem would be felt especially in the area of new hires.
"If Filipinos cannot come to Taiwan, it's going to cause problems not only for I-MEI Foods, but for many other companies here in Taiwan," he was cited as saying.
The letter was handed over to the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) in Taiwan on Thursday morning, Cheng said, adding that MECO was asked to forward the letter to the government of the Philippines. MECO Chairman Angelito Banayo confirmed to ABS-CBN News that he received the letter.
Cheng, a former diplomat, sought to assure Manila that the new coronavirus situation in Taiwan is totally under control, saying, "It is much better than Japan, Singapore and other countries in the region as far as addressing the viral outbreak,” the news outlet reported. Cheng added, "There are only 18 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infections, of which some have already recovered.”
Meanwhile members of the Filipino community in southern Taiwan issued a signed statement and video, according to ABS-CBN. In the video, the Filipino community express fears of a possible loss of thousands of jobs, adding that the "Taiwan government would look for workers from other countries instead."
According to Filipino news outlet the Rappler, the country's labor department has issued a statement regarding the travel ban, in which Secretary Silvestre Bello III expresses his desire for the outbound-flight ban to Taiwan to be lifted for Filipino workers. "We hope for a possible lifting of the ban in a few days,” Bello was quoted as saying.