A top official of the Department of National Defense (DND) yesterday warned of a humanitarian crisis as the Philippines continues to monitor the tension between Taiwan and China.
Speaking during the organizational meeting of the Senate Committee on National Defense, DND OIC Usec. Jose Faustino Jr. noted they already have a detailed plan and timeline in case of the repatriation of Filipinos in Taiwan.
“Right now, what we can do is closely monitor, we have prepared contingency if and ever the worst-case scenario will happen,” Faustino said.
Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, the chairperson of the said Senate committee, said he “hopes the situation will not worsen.”
“We are hoping the tension won’t escalate, but if it heightened, the military is prepared to repatriate our OFWs,” he said in a media briefing.
He said Faustino and Vice Admiral Reyes assured him they have prepared a contingency plan.
Faustino cautioned against the impact of the China-Taiwan conflict on the whole world. He said this is because the Taiwan Strait is considered a “sea lane of communication.”
Faustino said they already learned that China’s military exercises should have been completed, but the Chinese military is continuing the exercises.
Faustino also said they are preparing for the influx of refugees in case the tension escalates due to the proximity of the Philippines to Taiwan.
The government is still hoping that the rift between China and Taiwan won’t result in a war. Faustino also said the Philippines’ Mutual Defense Treaty with America will be recognized.
“We have to honor the mutual defense treaty. That’s written in the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951 with the US. But it’s also stated there it will still be according to our constitutional processes and not automatic and the same with the US,” Faustino said.
Senator Christopher “Bong” Go on Wednesday meanwhile told the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) to be ready for a contingency plan as he aired his concern for Filipino workers in East Asia amid mounting tensions in Taiwan.
“I am deeply concerned for the safety and welfare of our OFWs working in various parts of East Asia because of increasing tension among stakeholders over Taiwan,” Go said.
He then called on the government, particularly the newly formed DMW, to immediately put in place contingency measures in case the situation deteriorates.
The senator also urged the DMW to ensure that the government readies “potential assistance and reintegration programs” should the concerned OFWs be required to return home to the Philippines.
“Let us protect the lives of each Filipino wherever they are in the world,” he said.
Go has also stressed his hopes that the countries involved will exercise restraint and use diplomatic channels to ease the tension and find peaceful solutions.
“Our world, still reeling from the adverse effects of the current health crisis, cannot afford another catastrophe with potentially unspeakable consequences,” said Go.
Tensions over Taiwan escalated after United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the island on August 2. China, which views Taiwan as a breakaway province, condemned the visit resulting in it conducting military drills encircling the island.