Filipino migrants’ safety urged

As tensions rise between China and Taiwan, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go has expressed deep concern over the safety of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in various parts of East Asia.

I call on our government, particularly the newly formed Department of Migrant Workers, to immediately put in place contingency measures in case the situation deteriorates. We must also ready potential assistance and reintegration programs should we require our OFWs to come home,” Go said.

The senator urged countries involved to exercise restraint and use diplomatic channels to ease the tension and find peaceful solutions.

Our world, still reeling from the adverse effects of the current health crisis, cannot afford another catastrophe with potentially unspeakable consequences, he warned.

On Tuesday, Taiwan held an artillery drill simulating defense against an attack as its top diplomat accused Beijing of preparing to invade the island after days of massive Chinese war games.

China launched its largest-ever air and sea exercises around Taiwan last week in a furious response to a visit by United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the highest-ranking American official to visit the self-ruled island in decades.

Taiwan lives under the constant threat of invasion by China, which views its neighbor as part of Chinese territory to be seized one day, by force if necessary.

“China has used the drills in its military playbook to prepare for the invasion of Taiwan,” foreign minister Joseph Wu told a press conference in Taipei on Tuesday, accusing Beijing of using Pelosi’s visit as a pretext for military action.

“China’s real intention is to alter the status quo in the Taiwan Strait and entire region,” he said.

The Chinese military said its Taiwan drills continued Tuesday and involved air and sea units.

The Eastern Theater command of the People’s Liberation Army said in a statement that it was conducting training exercises around the island, “focusing on joint blockade and joint support operations.”

Taipei’s drill started in the southern county of Pingtung shortly after 0040 GMT with the firing of target flares and artillery, ending just under an hour later at 0130 GMT, Lou Woei-jye, spokesperson for Taiwan’s Eighth Army Corps, said.

Soldiers fired from howitzers tucked into the coast, hidden from view of the road that leads to popular beach destination Kenting.

The drills, which will also take place Thursday, included the deployment of hundreds of troops and about 40 howitzers, the army said.

On Monday, Lou told AFP the drills had been scheduled previously and were not in response to China’s exercises.

The island routinely stages military drills simulating defense against a Chinese invasion, and last month practised repelling attacks from the sea in a “joint interception operation” as part of its largest annual exercises.


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