MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines isn’t taking lightly North Korea’s “declaration of war’’ with South Korea and threats to attack US bases in South Korea and the Pacific.
President Benigno Aquino III has directed the Department of Foreign Affairs to alert Filipinos in South Korea and prepare them for any eventuality in the Korean peninsula, Malacañang said Sunday.
At the President’s orders, embassy officials in Seoul were now coordinating with Filipino community leaders “on steps to be taken pertinent to the situation’’ in the Korean peninsula, Secretary Edwin Lacierda said.
“The President is being updated on the situation in the Korean Peninsula. The President has directed the DFA to ensure that the Philippine embassy in Korea coordinate with the Filipino community there,’’ the presidential spokesperson said in a text message to reporters.
Secretary Herminio Coloma of the Presidential Communications Operations Office said the DFA was tasked with “ensuring the safety of Filipinos’’ and that contingency plans were in place.
North Korea last Saturday declared it had entered into a “state of war’’ with South Korea and warned both the US and South Korea that any provocation would escalate into an all-out nuclear war.
The US took the announcement “seriously’’ but observed it followed a familiar pattern while South Korea dismissed it as an old threat in a new form.
North Korea had put its missile units on standby Friday to attack US bases in South Korea and the Pacific, a day after the US flew two stealth bombers over South Korea on practice runs.
North Korea has issued a flurry of threats since early this month when the US and South Korea began routine military drills. The US and South Korea said the drills were purely defensive in nature.
The two Koreas have technically remained at war because the 1950-53 Korean War concluded with an armistice instead of a peace treaty.
Coloma said the government has contingency plans for any nuclear fallout.
“The NDRRMC (National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council) has a continuing contingency plan to respond to external threats, including previous missiles launched from the two Koreas. We maintain a posture of vigilance and adherence to diplomatic modes of conflict resolution,’’ he said in a text to reporters.