Marcos wants PH to 'take advantage' of ties with Taiwan to improve agri tech: Bello

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 08 2022 01:22 PM | Updated as of Jul 08 2022 01:23 PM

A farmer in Guimba, Nueva Ecija rides his tractor
A farmer in Guimba, Nueva Ecija rides his tractor preparing a parcel of his rice field for rice seedlings in time for planting in the coming rainy days, which, according to PAGASA will start on the first day of June. Angie de Silava, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. wants the Philippines to "take advantage" of ties with Taiwan to improve the local agriculture technology, the new head of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) said Friday. 

"Very simple ang direktiba niya (Marcos)... that is to strengthen our economic and cultural ties and to take advantage ng ating relasyon by getting 'yung technology nila, especially for agriculture technology," said MECO Chairman and Resident Representative Silvestre Bello. 

(His directive was very simple, that is to strengthen our economic and cultural ties and to take advantage of our relations by getting their technology, especially for agriculture technology.) 

Marcos gave the directive through Executive Secretary Victor Rodriguez, Bello said in a televised public briefing. 

"Magtataka ka, yung pampano natin napakaliit compared sa pampano ng Taiwan... halos kalahati lang ang size," he added.

(You'll wonder why our pampano fish is so small compared to Taiwan's, it's nearly half the size.) 
Marcos earlier said he would head the agriculture department "to make it clear to everyone what a high priority we put on the agricultural sector."

The President this week instructed agriculture officials to start drafting policies to address the looming food crisis in the country.

Bello said he was still studying how Manila and Taipei could further enhance relations, aside from possible cooperation in the agriculture sector.

Bello served as the labor secretary under the administration of former President Rodrigo Duterte.

"Noong nasa DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) ako, 'yung ating mga OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) sa Taiwan ay walang problema," Bello said.

"They are treated very well. They are recognized... Walang naaabuso kaya maganda yung kalagayan ng ating mga OFW sa Taiwan," he added.

(When I was still with the DOLE, our OFWs in Taiwan had no problem... No one was abused so the situation of our OFWs in Taiwan was good.) 

Bello said he planned to meet with Department of Migrant Workers Secretary Susan "Toots" Ople to discuss policies for Filipinos in Taiwan.

The former labor chief earlier urged OFWs to return to the Philippines to serve their country instead of toiling abroad.

As of 2021, there were 160,000 Filipinos in Taiwan, according to data from the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Taipei.

Of this number, 85 percent or 142,000 are registered OFWs, while the rest are Filipinos married to Taiwanese residents or those who hold permanent visas in Taiwan.

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