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July 27, 2017

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The Philippines apologizes over visa-free criticism: MOFA

The China Post with CNA--The Philippines has offered an apology to Taiwan and removed a controversial news post on an official website that claimed the Southeast Asian country was angered over a Taiwanese envoy's effort to push for Manila to grant Taiwan visa-waiver privileges, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday.

Antonio Basilio, representative of Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO), has apologized to Taiwan over the "inappropriate action," said James Chou (周穎華), deputy director-general of the MOFA's Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, during a regular briefing.

The news post was merely an "opinion from the media" and "does not represent the Philippines government nor the MECO," he added.

Chou made the comments in response to a news report that was recently posted on the official site of MECO, the Philippines' de facto embassy in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties, in which unidentified sources were quoted as saying that the Philippines is not satisfied with Taiwan's policy to push for visa-waiver status.

The report, written by Rina Jimenez-David of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, criticized Taiwan's representative to Philippines, Raymond Wang (王樂生), of pressuring the Philippines government to form a visa-waiver agreement with Taiwan.

Pushing for visa-waiver status "is certainly part of his duties as Taiwan's representative, but what certain quarters are decrying is that Wang is going about it in ways that can only be described as boorish and overbearing," it said.

"Wang, who's had little previous experience in the foreign ministry, appears to lack the necessary diplomatic experience and cultural sensitivity," the report quoted unidentified sources as saying of Wang.

It also said that the Philippines has rejected Taiwan's proposal to reach a visa-waiver agreement because granting Taiwan such privileges would equal to granting the same right to Chinese travelers and open the door to "Taiwanese and Chinese drug and human smuggling syndicates."

Commenting on the report, Chou said yesterday that Taiwan-Philippines ties remain stable and friendly despite the controversial post.

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