A SENATOR on Monday called on authorities in the executive branch to prepare a contingency plan for the protection of some 200,000 Filipino workers in Taiwan amid rising global tensions.
“The tension between China and Taiwan is not something to be taken lightly. The DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs), OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration), and POLO (Philippine Overseas Labor Office) should be making a contingency plan right now in the event that this problem worsens,” Senator Rafael T. Tulfo, who is set to lead the Senate Migrant Workers Committee, said in a statement.
“This is the perfect time for government agencies to show their united strength by working together for the safety and security of our workers abroad,” he added.
Mr. Tulfo cited that the Philippine government in the past two decades had been more reactive than proactive when dealing with crisis situations involving overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
“Only when troubles and issues are already present, where OFWs are stuck in other countries without money or food, do they act. It shouldn’t be like that!”
“We should be ready to evacuate OFWs in the event that the current situation escalates into a war,” he said.
United States House Speaker Nancy Patricia Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan last week angered China, which conducted air and naval drills that involved test launches of ballistic missiles as it blockaded the island.
The Taiwanese government reported that some Chinese fighter jets have passed through the median lines in the Taiwan Strait despite condemnation from the US, Japan and the European Union.
“The situation for OFWs in Taiwan is fraught with too much risk and many Filipino workers are now worried about their future abroad. First, we need to ensure the safety of OFWs because the lives of each one of them are very important,” he said.
“The national government should provide enough funding assistance to all Filipino workers to ensure that they can smoothly re-enter the country once they are evacuated,” he added.
Political analysts on Sunday urged the government to craft an overall emergency strategy to help the Philippines withstand possible shocks from escalating tensions between the United States and China over Taiwan.
Herman Joseph S. Kraft, who heads the University of the Philippines Political Science Department, said: “Given that Taiwan seems to be at the center of the current issue, the country should have contingencies activated that are not just about how we are going to get our overseas workers out of Taiwan.” — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan