NSC says Philippines adheres to One China Policy
MANILA — The National Security Council (NSC) on Sunday maintained that the Philippines "has no intention" of interfering in China's affairs with Taiwan, a day after Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian blasted the United States' expanded access to Philippine military bases under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).
In a statement, NSC spokesperson Jonathan Malaya asserted the Philippines would "not allow itself to be used by other countries to interfere" in the growing tensions in Taiwan, the self-governed democratic island that China claims as part of its territory.
"National Security Adviser Eduardo M. Año has made our position clear that the increased security cooperation between the Philippines and the United States is meant to develop and strengthen the capabilities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to enable it to protect and defend the territory of the Philippines and is not meant to contain or counter any nation in the region or to interfere in another nation’s affairs," Malaya said.
"The Philippines is primarily concerned about improving its defense capability, modernizing our equipment and assets, and developing our infrastructure. These are the primary reasons why we are increasing our security cooperation with the United States under the 72-year old Mutual Defense Treaty between our 2 countries," he added.
The NSC spokesperson also assured that the Philippines continues to adhere to the One China Policy, as well as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' (ASEAN) "principle of non-interference in approaching regional issues."
"Our primordial concern in Taiwan is the safety and well-being of the more than 150,000 Filipinos living and working on the island and we take grave exception to any effort by guests in our country to use this to fear-monger and intimidate us," Malaya said.
In a forum on Friday, the Chinese Ambassador told the Philippine government to reject “Taiwan independence” if it really cares about the 150,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFW) there.
"Some tried to find excuse for the new EDCA sites by citing the safety of the 150,000 OFWs in Taiwan, while China is the last country that wishes to see conflict over the Strait because people on both sides are Chinese. But we will not renounce the use of force, and we reserve the option of taking all necessary measures. This is to guard against external interference and all separatist activities," Huang said.
Some analysts and a retired general have described Huang's pronouncements as a "veiled threat."
Año had met with Huang last week to assure him that the 4 newly identified EDCA sites in the country were not meant for offensive operations against China, a sentiment that had been earlier conveyed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
The Chinese government had noted that 2 of the new EDCA sites were at the northernmost tip of Luzon, just a few hundred kilometers off Taiwan.
Año also explained to Huang that the new EDCA sites were meant to be developed to "enable the government to further strengthen the AFP to enable it to defend and protect the country."
"By developing our military and base infrastructure, we are pursuing our national interest and actually contributing to regional peace and stability," the NSC said.
Senator Risa Hontiveros, meanwhile, slammed Huang for his "truly disgraceful statements" referring to OFWs in Taiwan.
"How dare he threaten us," she said in a separate statement Sunday.
"Our OFWs in Taiwan will continue to work where they work. End of story. Filipinos will thrive and make a living according to our wishes. We will never let Beijing decide on the future of Filipino families. Their destiny is not in China’s hands," she said.
"He, along with his country’s ships and artificial islands in the West Philippine Sea, should pack up and leave," Hontiveros also said.
—with reports from Job Manahan and Jose Carretero, ABS-CBN News