DND: It’s vital to ensure safety of Filipinos in Taiwan
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Defense (DND) on Saturday reiterated that while the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) is not directed towards any country, it is important to prepare for all contingencies to ensure the safety of Filipinos abroad, including Taiwan.
This statement follows Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian’s warning against the Philippines allowing the United States (US) to use its military bases.
While the DND reiterated that the Philippines observes the One China Policy as well as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations rule of non-intervention, it insisted that the country must protect Filipinos abroad, including those in Taiwan.
“We reiterate that our primordial concern in Taiwan is the safety and wellbeing of the Filipinos living and working on the island. Amid the tensions in the Cross Straits, however, the Department deems it prudent to prepare for any contingencies to ensure the safety of Filipinos overseas, especially those based in Taiwan,” said the DND in a statement.
The DND said that it “takes exception” to the statement made by the Chinese envoy.
“In the midst of the complex regional security landscape, the DND seeks to improve the Philippines’ defense capabilities through all the means available to us. The implementation of Edca is not directed against any country and is in line with our efforts to modernize our alliance and enable collective defense and peace, promote our national interest, protect our national sovereignty, ensure the livelihood and welfare of our fisherfolk and communities, and enhance our capability to respond to emergencies and disasters, as well as provide humanitarian assistance,” said the DND.
The DND also contradicted Huang’s comparison of Taiwan’s situation to Mindanao.
“The whole context and rich experience of our peace process in Mindanao, which allowed the participation of the international community,” said the agency.
The defense department also reiterated its call for all countries to comply with the rule of law.
“Thus, we reiterate our appeal to all concerned parties and states to adhere to the rule of law and diplomacy in managing differences. The Philippines shall continue to advocate for peace, mutual respect and endeavor to protect and uphold our national and global interests,” said the DND.