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DFA sees ‘adverse repercussions’ on PH if Taiwan conflict escalates

Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo on Monday raised concerns about the tensions in the Taiwan Strait, stressing that the Philippines may suffer from “really adverse repercussions” because of it.

During the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) forum held in Washington D.C., Manalo noted that there are 150,000 to 200,000 Filipinos living and working in Taiwan, which just sits north of the Philippines.

“Taiwan is literally next door to the Philippines. So just looking at that, any kind of escalation of tensions or, even worse, some kind of a conflict, military conflict, would have really adverse repercussions on the Philippines. Of course, it would probably have repercussions on the entire region, but particularly the Philippines, given our proximity,” the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) secretary said.

“We have always been very concerned if tensions escalate. Of course, there have always been tensions. But occasionally they tend to erupt and become more intense. And so we naturally look with concern at that,” Domingo added.

In 2022, the Philippines expressed its commitment to adhere to the One-China policy amid rising tensions in the Taiwan Strait.

In deference to this policy, the Philippines does not have diplomatic ties with Taiwan, a democratic self-ruling island that has been separated from the Chinese mainland since 1949 but is still claimed by China as part of its territory.

China mentioned last week a concern “shared by many in the Philippines” as regards the country getting drawn into a “potential conflict” in the Taiwan Strait after the designation of new Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) sites with the United States in Luzon.

China said the issue of Taiwan question was internal to China and that it was not the Chinese side heightening cross-Strait tensions, "but the 'Taiwan independence' forces in the island and certain countries that support these forces."

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., however, maintained on Monday that the four additional EDCA sites would not be used for offensive actions.

Marcos also said China has nothing to worry about these additional military facilities as the Philippine government is only enhancing the country's defense posture.

Manalo, for his part, thus urged China and US “to manage their strategic rivalry with dialogue, transparent and sincere engagement, where possible.”

“We’ve always urged the parties concerned to try and, let’s say, manage these tensions by having, wherever possible, dialogue in order to prevent these tensions from escalating into something more. Because our view is that not only would it affect the Philippines, but it would affect the entire region, and could escalate to even something, you know, more dangerous,” he said.

Over the weekend, China conducted military exercises in the Taiwan Strait simulating targeted strikes and a blockade of the self-ruled island. —KG, GMA Integrated News