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Filipino envoy visits Hualien, expresses Manila's sympathy over quake

04/07/2024 06:21 PM
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Manila Economic and Cultural Office Chairman and Resident Representative Silvestre III Hernando Bello (third left) delivers resources to Filipino migrant worker community members in Hualien on Sunday. Photo courtesy of MECO April 7, 2024
Manila Economic and Cultural Office Chairman and Resident Representative Silvestre III Hernando Bello (third left) delivers resources to Filipino migrant worker community members in Hualien on Sunday. Photo courtesy of MECO April 7, 2024

Taipei, April 7 (CNA) The de facto Filipino ambassador to Taiwan visited Hualien City on Sunday to extend his nation's sympathy following a magnitude 7.2 earthquake that struck off the coast of eastern Taiwan on Wednesday and has left at least 13 people dead and more than 1,000 injured.

"We extend the sympathy of his excellency President Marcos Jr. to the people of Hualien and the people of Taiwan," Chairman and Resident Representative Silvestre III Hernando Bello from the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) in Taiwan told reporters in Hualien.

"We sympathize with what has happened to you... and hope that not too much injury is caused to the people of Hualien," he added.

The MECO head said he had also visited the city to meet with his fellow compatriots. Currently, around 1,400 Filipinos are living in Hualien.

Manila Economic and Cultural Office Chairman and Resident Representative Silvestre III Hernando Bello (third right) speaks with local press in Hualien on Sunday. Photo courtesy of MECO April 7, 2024
Manila Economic and Cultural Office Chairman and Resident Representative Silvestre III Hernando Bello (third right) speaks with local press in Hualien on Sunday. Photo courtesy of MECO April 7, 2024

"We are very happy to know that not so many of them have been injured. We thank the government and people of Hualien for taking care of them," he added.

No Filipinos have been reported killed, injured or missing following the strongest earthquake to hit Taiwan in 25 years, government data shows.

According to MECO, Bello arrived in Taiwan on Friday and will meet Philippine nationals in a church in Hualien later Sunday.

A MECO press statement said that Bello had distributed relief packs and cash assistance later Sunday to hundreds of OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) whose work and lives have been disrupted following the disaster.

"President Bongbong Marcos is very much concerned with your situation here, and he has instructed us to extend all needed assistance to ease your condition," Bello told the Filipinos in Hualien.

MECO Deputy Resident Representative Alice Visperas, Migrant Workers Office Director Cesar Chavez and Welfare Officer Ruth Roselyn Vibar also visited Hualien with the envoy.

Members of MECO pose for a photo with Filipino migrant workers in Hualien on Sunday. Photo courtesy of MECO April 4, 2024
Members of MECO pose for a photo with Filipino migrant workers in Hualien on Sunday. Photo courtesy of MECO April 4, 2024

MECO serves as the Philippines' de facto embassy in Taiwan in the absence of official diplomatic ties.

In a social media post on Wednesday just after the quake struck, Marcos Jr. wrote, "Our hearts are with the people of Taiwan as they endure the aftermath of today's powerful earthquake." He added that Manila stands ready to assist and support the nearly 160,000 Filipinos in Taiwan.

In response, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) thanked President Marcos Jr. in a post on X (formerly known as Twitter).

"Thank you @bongbongmarcos for your heartfelt message following today's (Wednesday's) earthquake. Response efforts are ongoing, and we will continue to do our utmost to protect the safety of all in Taiwan, including our Filipino community, as we recover and rebuild."

(By Joseph Yeh)

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