MANILA — A retired general and a political analyst on Saturday criticized China for their “veiled threats” against the welfare of tens of thousands of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in Taiwan amid new developments under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).
Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian said Friday that Beijing “reserves the option of taking all necessary measures” should things escalate in the Taiwan Strait, just as it advised Manila to oppose “Taiwan independence” if it really cares about the 150,000 OFWs there.
But Ret. Gen. Edilberto Adan said in a media forum that the statement was “very disturbing” and a form of “coercion.”
“It is a veiled threat… ‘Huwag niyo payagan ang EDCA bases’ … Threat nga ‘yun. Paikikialam yun sa ating sovereignty,” said Adan, who also leads non-profit group Advocates for National Interest.
The EDCA bases, he said, were meant to boost the country’s defense and sovereignty, adding statements like that should be rejected.
For his part, political analyst Renato Cruz de Castro said he does not “see any connection to how the OFWs in Taiwan would be affected by the EDCA sites.”
De Castro added that a threat that OFWs in Taiwan faces is when China launches a major military offensive in the island. This is when the additional military bases could be used for evacuation.
“I hope he is not referring to that, because that is already an indication of something that China might do probably in the next 4 years,” he said.
“That’s why we have the EDCA sites… because they will be used for evacuation in case it will happen. That’s one of the reasons why we prepared those EDCA sites, air bases. That can be used in massive evacuation.”
Before this, Beijing said EDCA bases were "endangering regional peace."
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said this week the US is expecting to allocate at least $100 million for the development of infrastructure in the 9 EDCA sites.