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MANILA, Philippines – The Department of National Defense (DND) said on Saturday, April 15, that the Philippines-US Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) will not be used to meddle in China’s affairs in relation to Taiwan, contrary to the suggestion of China’s envoy to Manila.
“The Department of National Defense takes exception to the statement of Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian that the Philippines is meddling in the internal affairs of China concerning Taiwan,” DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said in a statement on Saturday, April 15.
In a statement on Friday, April 14, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian advised the Philippines to “unequivocally oppose” Taiwan’s independence. He claimed that the Philippines was “stoking the fire” by offering military bases near Taiwan Strait that can be accessed by the United States under the EDCA.
Andolong, in his statement, added that the Philippines observes the One China Policy and adheres to the Association of Southeast Asian Nation’s principle of noninterference in dealing with issues in the region. Under the One China Policy, Taiwan is an “inalienable part of China,” and that the People’s Republic of China is the only legal government representing the country.
The defense official also explained that the Philippines’ primary concern is the safety of Filipinos living and working in Taiwan. He added that the DND “deems it prudent to prepare for any contingencies” to ensure Filipinos’ safety amid the ongoing tension in the strait.
Andolong also defended the additional EDCA sites in the country, saying that the defense department aims to improve the country’s defense capabilities through available means.
“The implementation of EDCA is not directed against any country and is in line with our efforts to modernize our alliance and enable collective defense and peace, promote our national interest, protect our national sovereignty, ensure the livelihood and welfare of our fisherfolk and communities, and enhance our capability to respond to emergencies and disasters, as well as provide humanitarian assistance,” he said.
No intention to interfere
Jonathan Malaya, National Security Council (NSC)’s spokesperson, also clarified on Saturday that the country has no intention to interfere in the tension in Taiwan and “will not allow itself to be used by other countries to interfere in the said issue.”
Malaya said National Security Adviser Eduardo Año already clarified that the EDCA sites are meant to develop the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ capabilities. Malaya added that Año already assured China that the sites will not enable offensive operations against China or to interfere in the Taiwan issue.
“The identified EDCA sites are Philippine bases which we want to further develop based on the requirements for strategic basing and development of the AFP. These were not US-dictated but identified by our armed forces,” the NSC spokesperson said.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. himself had assured China that no Philippine military base would be used for “offensive” actions.
Amid the ongoing tension in Taiwan Strait, China held military exercises on April 9 after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen met with US House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy. China even simulated a scenario of striking Taiwan. – Rappler.com