Imee Marcos presses gov't to finish evacuation plan for Filipinos in Taiwan | Global News

Imee Marcos presses gov’t to finish evacuation plan for Filipinos in Taiwan

By: - Reporter / @BPinlacINQ
/ 02:20 PM June 14, 2023

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Sen. Imee Marcos. FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Imee Marcos on Wednesday pressed the government to complete its evacuation plan for Filipino migrant workers in Taiwan, instead of focusing on the United States’ request for the temporary stay of Afghans in the Philippines.

Marcos, head of the Senate foreign relations panel, said this should be the “immediate goal” of the Philippines’ humanitarian and disaster response initiatives with the US under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.


She pointed out that the US and Indonesia are already working on their evacuation strategy for their citizens in Taiwan should Asian giant China make a move to claim the self-governing island.


“Will we be ready or reactive?” Marcos said in a statement.

“We need answers to how overseas Filipino workers will assemble amid a widespread scramble to leave. What flight or shipping routes will give them safe passage through a military blockade? What transport will be used, where will they dock, and how often will they fetch Filipino evacuees so that everyone gets out as quickly as possible unharmed?”


The Department of Foreign Affairs previously said that it already has contingency plans in place in Taiwan areas with a high number of OFWs.

Marcos, however, raised doubts that a “comprehensive evacuation plan” is ready to be activated for some 150,000 Filipinos in Taiwan.

“No details, no drills. Military exercises have focused on retaliation, not rescue,” the lawmaker said.

‘Secondary concern’
Marcos pushed for the need to prioritize pinning down a way out for Filipinos in Taiwan in case tensions on the island further escalate.

She said the US request for third-world countries like the Philippines to accommodate Afghans should merely be “a secondary concern for us.”

READ: Imee Marcos: Bare PH-US ‘deal’ on Afghan refugees

“The US is rushing to ease its backlog of more than 70,000 Afghans seeking special immigrant status since August 2021, when American troops withdrew from Afghanistan as the Taliban took over,” Marcos said.

She warned about the looming lapse of the two-year humanitarian parole in August, which allows Afghan refugees to reside and work in the US.

“With time constraints to process a myriad of special visas, the vetting of refugees may become less thorough and pose security risks for third countries. Many of them have no documents to prove their work relationship with the US government or companies, particularly spies for the military.”

Marcos likewise took note of the cost of providing Afghans a “decent life” in the country, saying this would require employment opportunities and resource allocation that are “subject to local shortages.”

Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel “Babe” Romualdez on Tuesday said the US government’s request for the country to accommodate its former employees and their families in conflict-stricken Afghanistan is still being reviewed by the government.

But he welcomed the move to launch an inquiry on the issue, so it “can be properly vetted and discussed.”

READ: PH plan to accept Afghan refugees still for review – envoy

Cost is a concern
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian agreed that the Philippines should extend help to Afghans with no criminal history and are considered allies of the country.

He backed the bid for the Senate to inquire about the US’ request to answer the lingering questions and allay fears about the proposal.

The legislator likewise echoed Marcos’ sentiment that logistical costs are among the salient considerations in proceeding with this deal.

“The concern is the cost. Afghanistan is in the Middle East. Gasoline costs are higher. There are logistical issues like where the Afghans will be processed. It might cost less if they stay somewhere in the Middle East. It isn’t practical to bring them here,” Gatchalian told reporters, speaking in a mix of English and Filipino.

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This matter, including the Afghans’ length of stay and the requirements for the special immigration visas to be given to them, must be fleshed out in the Senate hearing, Gatchalian added.

TAGS: Afghanistan, China, ofws, refugees, Taiwan, United States

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