Palace: Gov’t has contingency plans for trapped PH peacekeepers
MANILA, Philippines— Amid its hope that the tension in Syria is reduced, the government maintained that it has contingency plans for the Filipino peacekeepers trapped in a standoff with Syrian rebels in the Golan Heights, Malacanang said Saturday.
“We have contingency plans but we would leave it to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), deputy presidential spokesman Abigail Valte said on state-run radio dzRB.
“Our men are holding their ground and we are all hoping that the tension will ease and that they will be brought home safely,” she added.
It was only last week that the Philippine government decided to recall its peacekeepers serving in the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force due to the worsening security situation in the Middle East. The peacekeepers were only waiting for their end of duty in October.
The AFP, however, said there’s no regret in their part in not pulling out troops in Golan Heights sooner despite the previous cases of abduction and the ongoing standoff between Filipino UN peacekeepers and armed Syrian rebels.
AFP Chief of Staff General Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. said it is an honor and pride for the Philippines to be deployed as UN peacekeepers because it shows that we can contribute to world peace and security.
Valte, meanwhile, asked the public to pray for the safety of the Filipino peacekeepers.
“Let us be one in praying and hoping that the tension in Golan Heights will de-escalate and that our soldiers will be brought home safely,” she said.
On Thursday, August 28, 75 Filipino peacekeepers were locked in a standoff with Syrian rebels in the Golan Heights.
The anti-Syrian government surrounded the encampments of the Philippine contingent and demanded Filipino peacekeepers to surrender their firearms.
The Filipino troops did not heed to their demands, which resulted in a standoff.
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