April 18, 2023
MANILA, Philippines — The welfare and interests of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Taiwan are very well protected as the situation in the self-ruled island remained “very normal” amid the tension with China, the Manila Economic and Cultural Office said on Monday.
MECO chairperson Silvestre Bello III assured the public that OFWs in Taiwan are in “good condition” and there is no “cause for alarm” despite the recent statement of the Chinese ambassador to the Philippines citing the fate of OFWs there.
“The situation in Taiwan is very normal and the welfare and interest and the protection of our OFWs in Taiwan are well protected. Napakaganda ang condition ng ating OFWs doon, wala pong cause for alarm,” he said in an interview over ABS CBN News Channel.
(The condition of our OFWs there is good. There is no cause for alarm.)
“Right now, walang tension; normal na normal ang Taiwan (there is no tension; Taiwan is very normal). All our Filipino community members are prepared for any exigency,” Bello added.
Bello, who served as Labor Secretary in the past administration, made the statement after Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian indicated that the safety and welfare of 150,000 OFWs in Taiwan might be jeopardized if Manila does not “unequivocally oppose” Taiwan’s independence.
Beijing has claimed that the self-ruled island is part of China awaiting reunification.
Huang said the Philippines should avoid “stoking the fire” by giving American troops more access to local military bases close to Taiwan, referring to the additional sites under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) between Manila and the US.
Despite the Chinese envoy’s statement, Bello said he does not see how OFWs in Taiwan and the additional Edca sites are related, since these are not the only sites in Asia where US troops have access.
“Hindi lang naman dito sa Pilipinas ginagawa ng US yan; why is China now complaining and nirerelate sa situation ng OFWs when our OFWs are there [in Taiwan] to make a decent living. Ano relasyon ng OFWs sa Edca?” he said.
(The Philippines is not the only country that has an agreement with the US; why is China now complaining and relating this to our OFWs’ situation when they are in Taiwan to make a decent living? What is the relation between OFWs and Edca?)
He also gave an assurance that Taiwan remains independent in terms of hiring OFWs. There have also been discussions to increase the number of OFWs in Taiwan, especially hospitality workers and teachers.
“Very independent ang Taiwan [in terms of hiring OFWs.] China has nothing to do with the employment of our OFWs there,” the MECO chief said.