Marcos orders DFA to look after OFWs in Taiwan: official

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 18 2023 02:59 PM | Updated as of Apr 18 2023 04:08 PM

A participant wearing a mask reading 'Taipei' holds a Taiwanese flag during Taiwan's National Day celebrations outside the Presidential Palace in Taipei, Taiwan, October 10, 2022. Taiwan's National day, also known as Double Ten Day, is celebrated annually on October 10. Daniel Ceng Shou Yi, EPA-EFE.
A participant wearing a mask reading 'Taipei' holds a Taiwanese flag during Taiwan's National Day celebrations outside the Presidential Palace in Taipei, Taiwan, October 10, 2022. Taiwan's National day, also known as Double Ten Day, is celebrated annually on October 10. Daniel Ceng Shou Yi, EPA-EFE.

MANILA — President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. on Tuesday ordered the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to look after the overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in Taiwan, after the Chinese ambassador's recent comments against them. 

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Eduardo De Vega said contingency measures are in place in case Filipinos needed to be evacuated.

"He has given a general order na always watch out (sic) for the safety and welfare of all OFWs, including in Taiwan," said De Vega in a televised briefing. 

"Tulad ng DFA statement, we wish to assure our senators and public na may contingency plan, matagal na ito. It's a thick book. Nandoon yan sa Manila Economic Cultural Office at saka labor offices," he added, without mentioning specifics. 

Chinese Ambassador to Manila Huang Xilian earlier said 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 overseas Filipino workers (OFW) there. 

Huang's statement came after the Philippine government allowed additional military bases under its Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the United States. 

He later claimed that he was "misquoted." 

Video from PTV

Some analysts and a retired general though have described Huang's pronouncements as a "veiled threat."

De Vega also assured parties that the Philippines "is a peaceful country."

"Wala tayong intent na gumawa ng offensive military actions. There is no need for anyone to make statements that make it appear our OFWs are being targeted, hindi po," he said.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. had maintained that the new EDCA sites would not be used for offensive attacks after the Chinese government noted that 2 of these bases were located at the northernmost tip of Luzon, just a few hundred kilometers away from Taiwan.