MANILA - The Department of National Defense (DND) has maintained that the Philippines adheres to the One-China policy but stressed that dialogue must prevail in the escalating tensions between China and Taiwan.
Defense officer-in-charge Jose Faustino Jr. met with his United States counterpart, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III, in Honolulu, Hawaii on Thursday to discuss the two countries’ bilateral relations.
Tensions in the Taiwan Strait soared to their highest level in years in August after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei.
Faustino urged all concerned parties to exercise restraint and diplomacy.
“On the tensions over the Taiwan Strait, I would like to emphasize the statement of our President. The principle guiding foreign policy is always peace, and the Philippines is concerned with the recent security developments in Taiwan, the Taiwan Strait particularly, which is just near our territory,” he said.
He added that the country’s priority is the safety of Filipinos living and working in Taiwan.
“In view of the volatile situation in the cross Straits, the Philippines’ immediate concern is the safety of our OFWs in Taiwan, which is at this point, numbering to around 130,000 to 150,000 OFWs. We continue to update and enhance our contingency plans,” Faustino said.
He went on, “It is also imperative to regularly update and exercise the PH-US mutual defense concept plan under the ambit of the MDT [Mutual Defense Treaty] based on our dynamic security environment.”
Austin, meanwhile, said the US does not want to see “any type of unilateral change to the status quo” in the Taiwan Strait.
“We are focused on making sure that we are working together to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the US official said.
Malacañang, during the height of the tensions in Taiwan Strait last month, said it would not change its adherence to the One-China policy.
President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. had called for the peaceful resolution of the tensions in the area just north of the Philippines, which he described as "concerning."
Under the One-China principle, Beijing regards Taiwan as part of its territory despite the island asserting it is a self-governing entity.
Manila's recognition of the People's Republic of China as the sole legal government of China and that Taiwan is an integral part of the Chinese territory were spelled out in a 1975 joint communique that established the two countries' diplomatic relations.
The Philippines maintains an unofficial link with Taiwan through the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO).
— With reports from Job Manahan and Ronron Calunsod, ABS-CBN News