Authorities in the Philippines announced Tuesday that a 25-member gang busted a day earlier for alleged drug trafficking and telecom fraud consisted of 17 Taiwanese and eight Chinese.
All of the suspects, who used tourist visas to enter the Philippines, were being held on the island of Boracay where they were arrested, pending further investigation.
But authorities have not ruled out moving them to Kalibo on the neighboring island of Panay to formally take them into custody, the police said.
Taiwan's Foreign Ministry confirmed Tuesday that 17 of the suspects were Taiwanese and stressed that it was following the case closely.
The 25 suspects were arrested in a sting operation early Monday, according to police in the country's sixth administrative region.
One of the 25 was arrested when he tried to sell small packets of amphetamine to law enforcement officers posing as buyers, and his arrest led to a raid on his residence, according to the police.
During the raid, Philippine authorities discovered 24 other foreign nationals and found an unspecified number of telephones and notebook computers that authorities suspected may have been used in illegal activities, the police said.
The Philippine police believed that the victims of the telecom fraud were in China. Because nobody in the Philippines has filed a complaint against the suspects, prosecutors will probably not pursue the case, making it likely that the suspects will be deported.
In some recent cases of suspected telecom fraud, in which Taiwanese and Chinese nationals operating in third countries allegedly preyed on people living in China, the Taiwanese suspects have been deported to China.
The moves have angered Taiwan's government, which has contended it should have jurisdiction over its own nationals.
The Philippines would not comment on the future of the 17 Taiwanese suspects, saying only that it would "follow convention" in handling them, without explaining what that meant.
In 2011, Manila sent 14 Taiwanese fraud suspects to China, but that example has not been repeated since.
Source: Focus Taiwan