TAIWAN’S Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) on Monday took to task China’s ambassador in Manila for his remark on overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in Taiwan, calling it “brazen threats [that] are unacceptable to the civilized world.”

The ministry said Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian had used the safety of OFWs in Taiwan as a pretext to threaten the Philippine government, “manipulate the Taiwan issue, create panic and attempt to disguise the fact that it is China which is undermining regional peace and stability.”

This was after Mr. Huang asked Manila to oppose Taiwan’s independence if the country “cares genuinely” about the more than 150,000 OFWs living there.

“Protecting their nationals is one of the most important tasks of all foreign missions in Taiwan,” according to the Taiwan Ministry’s statement read, referring to Filipinos and Indonesians who live there.

“The MOFA maintains close communication and engages in frequent exchanges of opinions on regional developments with foreign representative offices in Taiwan,” it said. “When appropriate, MOFA also provides necessary assistance to countries to protect their citizens.”

It added that it recognizes the importance that Indonesia and the Philippines attach to their migrant workers in Taiwan and affirms the concrete steps of the two countries in promoting peace and stability in the region.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. on Tuesday asked the Department of Foreign Affairs to ensure the safety and welfare of OFWs in Taiwan.

 “Taiwan is willing to continue discussions with Indonesia, the Philippines and other countries on protecting their nationals in Taiwan and other issues of bilateral cooperation so as to deepen friendly ties and jointly contribute to maintaining a free, open, peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific,” the Taiwan Ministry said.

National Security Council spokesman Jonathan E. Malaya last week said the Philippines adheres to the One China Policy, which recognizes Taiwan as part of China and “subscribes to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations principle of noninterference in approaching regional issues.”

 Mr. Marcos Jr. in February gave the US access to four more military bases on top of five existing sites under the Philippines’ Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the US.

Three of the four new EDCA locations are in northern Philippines — Naval Base Camilo Osias in Sta Ana, Cagayan; Lal-lo Airport, also in Cagayan; and Camp Melchor dela Cruz in Gamu, Isabela.

Cagayan is about 1,000 kilometers away from self-ruled Taiwan, which China claims as part of its territory.

Mr. Huang told a forum in Manila last week Washington seeks to take advantage of the new EDCA sites to interfere with the Taiwan situation “to serve its geopolitical goals and advance its anti-China agenda at the expense of peace and development of the Philippines and the region at large.” — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz