MANILA, Philippines — Amid tensions in the Taiwan Strait, the Department of National Defense (DND) on Wednesday warned of a possible humanitarian crisis should armed clashes erupt in the area.
Tension in the Taiwan Strait was heightened by the recent visit by United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan, a self-governing island being claimed by China as part of its territory.
While DND officer-in-charge Jose Faustino Jr. hoped that tensions would de-escalate, he laid out the possible impacts on the Philippines should armed clashes take place in the Taiwan Strait.
“If there will be an armed confrontation in those areas — na (that) we hope and pray na hindi talaga mangyari ‘yun (would not happen) — because first, of course, humanitarian crisis. Apektado tayo lahat diyan (We will all be affected there),” he said during the Senate committee hearing on national defense, security, peace, unification, and reconciliation.
“Next is we know very well that ‘yung area na ‘yun, ‘yung Taiwan Strait, ay daanan talaga ito. It’s a sea lane of communication, and it will affect not only us but global,” he added, noting that almost $5 trillion worth of global economy passes through the area.
(Next, we know very well that that area, the Taiwan Strait, is a sea lane.)
On top of these, refugees may seek assistance from the Philippines as it is near Taiwan, Faustino pointed out.
“We expect also that maybe there will be some refugees coming to us kasi tayo ang pinakamalapit sa (because we are the country closest to) Taiwan,” he said.
The DND is currently closely monitoring the developments on the matter. They are prepared for any contingency, including the repatriation of Filipinos in Taiwan, in case of any miscalculations, said Faustino.
There are around 140,000 to 150,000 Filipinos in Taiwan, said Faustino.