Philippines worried over North Korea rocket debris


THE KOREAN CONNECTION President Aquino is flanked by former President Fidel V. Ramos (right) and South Korean Ambassador Lee Hye-min during the inauguration of the Peftok Korean War Memorial Hall at Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City on Thursday. Ramos fought in Korea as a young lieutenant. President Aquino’s father, Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr., covered the war as a correspondent for the old Manila Times. LYN RILLON

Fearing debris could fall in the Philippines, President Benigno Aquino III on Thursday urged North Korea to forego a planned launch of a long range missile next month.

Mr. Aquino said it was “probable” that he would raise his government’s “grave concerns” over North Korea’s rocket launch with fellow leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations when they meet in the 20th Asean summit in Phnom Penh next week.

The President is to leave for Cambodia for the April 2-4 summits of the Asean and the 8th Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area.

Speaking at the inauguration of the Peftok-Korean war memorial near the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City, Mr. Aquino voiced out for the first time his government’s official position on the new crisis involving North Korea.

The President, who unveiled the marker, thanked the Korean government for the memorial hall it had funded to honor the 7,000-strong Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea during the 1950s war, including former President Fidel Ramos who was present in the event.

The President noted how the two governments were able to work together during the tensions in the Korean Peninsula in November 2010 and how it strengthened “our mutual solidarity.”

Needless provocation

Referring to North Korea’s shelling of a border of South Korea, Mr. Aquino said the experience then was “an unnecessary burden on all of us, when we could have concentrated on commerce and cooperation.”

“No one benefits from a return to those tension-filled days, and it is precisely out of our desire to promote the well being of all our peoples—Korean and Filipino alike—that we express today our grave concerns over the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s plans to launch what it claims as an earth observation satellite, but is widely believed to be a long range ballistic missile between April 12 and 16,” Mr. Aquino said.

The President said the use of ballistic missile technology in any launch violated the United Nations Security Council resolutions and would present “risks to all concerned.”

He said North Korea’s plans increased “tensions, particularly in the period of uncertainty leading up to the launch—where no one is sure of the trajectory of the missile.”

“Similarly, debris from the launch may potentially land in our territory. This is a needless provocation not only in the Korean peninsula, but in our entire region,” he said.

“It is with our respective peoples in mind that we urge the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea not to proceed with its planned launch,” the President said. “The way forward is for the DPRK to engage the international community and return to actions that promote confidence-building among its neighbors.”

Virtual invasion

Interviewed by reporters later, the President said: “You launch a missile and it winds up in a territory that does not belong to you. What right do you have to actually invade another country’s sovereign territory?”

Mr. Aquino said North Korea had a “lot of problems” and that it could have devoted its resources for the missile launch “to solve sufficiency of food for their people.”

“And if they turn to that direction I think the Philippines and other countries are more than willing to share whatever expertise and resources we do have so we will all prosper instead of diverting our attention to issues like this that pose unnecessary risk for all concerned,” he said.

Asked whether his call to North Korea would be heeded, the President said everyone knew how Pyongyang “responds to world opinion that’s why they have been labeled a pariah state.”

“In Tagalog, don’t care—or deadma—but will we not protect our right?” he added.

The President said the country was unprepared to deal with the debris because the government was not sure where the missile was headed.

Kurt Campbell, US assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, was quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald as telling Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr last week, “If the missile test proceeds as North Korea has indicated, our judgement is that it will impact in an area roughly between Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines.”

“We have never seen this trajectory before. We have weighed into each of these countries and asked them to make clear that such a test is provocative and this plan should be discontinued,” Campbell said.

Potential paralysis

Ramos told reporters that the United States, South Korea, Russia and China had the clout to persuade the new North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, to change his mind.

“Can you imagine, even if we are outside the fallout zone of, let us assume a nuclear warhead, business will be paralyzed towards East Asia and that includes us,” Ramos said.

“We cannot export, and we cannot import, and tourism will just die off for a while, until normalcy resumes. So that is the danger that we are facing and it’s bad,” the former President said.

In his speech, President Aquino paid tribute to “the men of the Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea”  that included his father, Benigno S. Aquino Jr.,  who was a war correspondent during the Korean War.

Mr. Aquino said his father’s dispatches were a “tribute to the importance of solidarity, the demands of sacrifice and the true value of freedom and democracy.”

“He would return from the war and embark on a political career with these lessons in the back of his mind. They became the strongest weapons he had when he learned what it meant to fight for freedom in a time of peace,” the President said of his father Ninoy who fought the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos and was assassinated upon his return in 1983 from exile in the United States.

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  • raffyb0i

    PDI….magaling talaga kayo sa candid shots noh? I see what you did there…

  • John_Cruz

    The US does not have confidence on the reliability of NK rocket guidance system and its trajectory will likely deviate from the Southerly direction. Also the Earth rotates from West to East direction that could make the trajectory to drift westward making the second stage with high probability hitting mainland Luzon! Double check with the laws of Orbital Mechanics.

  • Don

    And all we can do is to worry…

    • Mel

      or a diplomatic protest…

      • Don

        And that’s after the debris are all over our territorial waters my friend or worse, in land, should DPRK pushes through its plans.

  • KonsensyaNgBayan

    NoKor Missiles are antiquated and dysfunctional just like their Government. No one knows if the crazy Administration will load these missile test with Nuclear Warhead or else if these miss-siles failed the projected target then part of Central Luzon will be affected. Hopefully the missiles will lost its trajectory while flying along Okinawa so the Japan Self-Defense Force Patriots Missiles could intercept it to avoid more damaged. Or the Visiting Forces have some alternative armaments at hand to avoid the missile hitting Luzon….

  • joboni96

    pnoy ang utang na loob
    when national interest
    is at stake

    kinupkop ng u.s.
    ang tatay mo at inyong pamilya noon

    huwag ka naman sunod sunuran
    sa u.s. nokor agenda
    dahil dito

    wala tayong national interest dyan
    mapapahamak pa tayo

    empty aluminum cylinder lang yan

    pati si amboy tabako
    reminiscing na naman siya
    sa korean exploits niya

    daming pilipinong namatay at nasugatan
    for what?

  • dark

    pansin ko lang sunod sunod ang exposure ni pnoy sa newspapers
    apektado sa noynoying.. guilty nag loko hahaha

  • mharkhaan

    Hahaha! nakakatawa naman po kaya d umaasinso ang pilipinas kc magkaruon na tayo ng mabuting pangalo dpa natin magawang suportahan…o sa tingin niyo makakatulong ba kayo sa mga ginagawa niyo? ako pwd pa kc sa dami ng utak niyo ganyan lang kayo mag isip…hehehe

  • Kulafu

    kaming mga Scavengers, ay hindi nagwo-worry sa pagbagsak nyan.. baka mag-agawan pa kaming mga scavengers sa mga babagsak na debris,, panigurado mahal ang bentahan sa Junkshop.!! nyahahahaha!!!

  • sh1seadad

    Don’t worry FiLipino’s, America or Japan will shoot it out of the air before it reaches anyone’s country. This has been done before you are safe with the U.S. Navy.

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