An Open Letter to TaiwanPosted: May 19, 2013
To the People of Taiwan
In behalf of my country, I apologize for the death of your compatriot, Hung Shih Cheng, in the hands of my country’s coast guards. Amidst the diplomatic bickering that has ensued from both our governments, I recognize that, above all, the issue at hand is this needless and most unfortunate death. Mr. Hung did not need to die, and I offer my deepest condolences to his family, friends, and loved ones.
We as a people are no strangers to seeing our compatriots die outside our shores. Oversees Filipino workers have, for legal or unjustified reasons, been killed in the past decades. If there is any nation which understands the pain of seeing our own die in foreign territory, it is us. We understand your pain and anger completely. It is in fact in that note that I implore you for your understanding: having experienced this circumstance far too often, my people have grown calloused to its horror, and as such we cannot show as much empathy for your grief as we ought to.
I also apologize for the diplomatic ineptness with which my country’s government has dealt with this issue. It did not need to add the word “unintended” to the quasi-official apology it gave to your government when investigations are still under way. And the gross tardiness with which it gave the apology to you is unprofessional. But I implore you to understand that whatever the results of the investigations will be, it has never been Philippine foreign policy to take the lives of foreigners.
I further apologize for my government’s use of the One China Policy to deal with this matter, I believe it is hypocritical in the face of previous negotiations we have had with your government in the past. I understand that China and Taiwan have been in good terms in the past few years, and I find it abhorrent that my country’s government and compatriots are compromising that welcome development simply because they are too proud to owe up to our country’s fault. While our country does observe the One China Policy, we cherish our relationship with you, and the fraction of our population who evoke the policy are simply being forgetful of our important ties with you. I look forward to the reversal of this policy and for further improvement in your relationship with the People’s Republic of China.
I agree completely with your President’s call for an agreed code of conduct from the competing nations in the disputed waters. I understand that far from the claim on the territory, this is the cause of your people’s anger. Again, I apologize for my country’s lack of insight, we are seeing your anger as a threat to our claims.
We understand your grief, and I myself understand that you may be irrational in your anger at Mr. Hung’s death. But I implore you not to hurt our compatriots in your worthy country. Filipinos living in Taiwan have had nothing but good opinions about it, and it is a shame that our hitherto good relationship as peoples has been strained. The Filipinos you are hurting there are your friends, as we here in the Philippines continue to be your friends. Indeed, owing to this affinity with you, many of them are just as indignant at the death of your compatriot as you are. I implore you not to hurt them. Please spare our people. One death is tragic enough, please do not add to it. I appeal to your sense of reciprocity.
This tragedy has caused me nothing but sadness, and I am hoping for nothing but quick justice for Mr. Hung and for the restoration of the mutual love between our nations.