The Philippines will only act if the overseas Filipino workers were affected by the conflict between Taiwan and China, Malacañang said Monday as it distanced itself from the political rift between the two nations.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the dispute should be left between the two countries even after Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen called for international support to defend Taipei’s democracy amid renewed threats from China.
“It’s between the two countries. Our concern is our OFWs there. When there’s already a problem arising out of that conflict, then we need to act for the safety of our OFWs,” Panelo told a Palace press briefing.
“Right now, we don’t know the situation yet, so we will let them be for now,” he added.
Asked if the Philippines would support Taiwan amid the country’s “enduring friendship” with China, Panelo said: “It depends.”
“I think I would leave the response to the proper authority—the Secretary of Foreign of Affairs. That is his turf,” said Panelo, deferring the matter of international issues to Foreign Affairs chief Teodoro Locsin.
There was no immediate reaction from the Department of Foreign Affairs.
On Saturday, Tsai asked the international community to voice support and help Taiwan after Chinese President Xi Jinping said Beijing would use force to unite Taiwan with the Asian giant if necessary.
According to Tsai, if the international community did not support a democratic country that was under threat, Taiwan might have to ask: “Which country might be next?”
Taiwan and China relations have bogged down since Tsai came to power in 2016, refusing to acknowledge that the self-ruled island was part of “one China.”
As a response, Beijing unilaterally cut off its communication with Tsai’s administration, ordering its forces to step up military drills around the island as Xi believed the unification of the two countries was “inevitable.”