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Cities to halt exchanges with Philippine counterparts

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taipei and Taichung will halt exchanges with its Philippine sister city in light of Manila's refusal to officially apologize over the killing of a Taiwanese fisherman, the cities' mayors announced yesterday.

Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強) urged residents to avoid traveling to and investing in the Philippines, calling on members across party lines to remain united against the Philippine government.

Local governments should cooperate with the central government in demanding that Manila apologize, Hu said.

Although local governments have a limited amount of influence when it comes to foreign affairs, Taichung will halt exchanges with its Philippine sister city, Makati, as a sign of protest, he said.

Despite urging residents to avoid investing in or traveling to the Philippines, Hu called on the residents of Taichung to respect and to protect Filipinos residing in the country legally.

The mayor urged residents to remain rational and civilized so that the rule of law can be upheld.

Hu Pledges Responsibility over Filipinos' Safety

The Central Taiwan municipality is scheduled to host the International Real Estate Federation's (FIABCI) 64th World Congress at the end of the month. With regard to supposed “safety concerns” over the five Filipinos who will be taking part in the event, the mayor said, “I will take responsibility (for their safety).”

“A nation has laws (to uphold), and a city has its dignity (to maintain),” Hu said, adding that he will not prevent the Filipinos from participating in the meeting.

Philippine citizens entering or residing in Taiwan legally should all be protected, the mayor stressed.

Taichung is the host of the FIABCI 64th World Congress, and as such, it should treat all participants equally, Hu added.

Citing alleged “safety concerns,” opposition lawmaker Lee Tien-sheng (李天生) urged Hu to stop the Filipinos from taking part in the conference.

The people of Taichung will remain rational with regard to the recent dispute, the mayor said, stressing that he will take responsibility of the visiting Filipinos' safety.

Taipei Official Urges Rationality

Meanwhile, Chao Hsin-ping (趙心屏), commissioner of Taipei's Department of Information and Tourism, also called on residents to remain rational with regard to visiting Filipinos.

During an interpellation session at the Taipei City Council, Chao said that Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) has made his stance very clear — unless Manila issues an official apology, residents are advised against traveling to the Philippines.

Chao added that since the Department of Information and Tourism was created, it has never collaborated with the Philippines on tourist promotions.

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Taichung Councilor Lee Chung (李中), left, speaks at a press event in the Central Taiwan city, yesterday. With the support of fellow party members, the Kuomintang councilor launched a campaign urging residents against traveling to the Philippines or buying products from the Philippines.

(CNA)

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