Senators await Palace contingency plan for Taiwan OFWs amid Beijing-Taipei row

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III prodded concerned Duterte administration officials on Monday to start preparing a contingency plan for over 140,000 Filipinos working and residing in Taipei amid tension between Taiwan and China.

Pimentel’s preparatory move came in the wake of reports citing anticipation of the heightened tension triggered Taipei in the wake of Taiwan’s hosting of the recent visit of United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The senator, who used to chair the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, expects the government to be quietly preparing plans to extricate overseas Filipinos in Taiwan if the need arises

Pimentel stressed it is important for the Philippines to “remain neutral” as the issues are being clarified, affirming there has been “no change in its One China Policy, or recognizing only one China government and it is based in Beijing.”

He said the Philippines cannot take sides or contradict the superpowers China and the US, as well as Taiwan which also hosts thousands of Filipinos based in Taipei, being a close neighbor of the Philippines.

If there are disagreements between China and the United States, the senator suggested they could both avail of the mechanisms in the United Nations and not let the situation deteriorate to an actual battle, citing for instance the lingering war between Russia and Ukraine.

At the same time, Pimentel said it is up to Senator Imee Marcos as chairperson of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations to weigh the options to seek a briefing from Malacañang.

This, as Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, chairman of the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security, confirmed his panel is already seeking a briefing from the national security and military officials, adding they are requesting updates on the prevailing situation, as well as the preparations being laid down in case such is needed.