AFP decides discretion better part of valor | Global News

AFP decides discretion better part of valor

By: - Reporter / @cynchdbINQ
/ 07:03 AM September 07, 2014


Philippine Armed Forces Chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang. AP FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—The Armed Forces of the Philippines said it would no longer engage in a word war with a UN Peacekeeping Force commander over the “unfortunate incident” in the Golan Heights last week in which Filipino peacekeepers escaped with their lives.

“We (AFP) decided that we should keep our silence on [any] further discussion of the incident,” AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Gregorio Catapang said in a text message.


“After saving our troops from being massacred, the last thing we want is be involved in a blame game,” he said.


Catapang said the AFP would just leave the talking to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) which, he said, would answer all questions about the escape and extraction of the Filipino peacekeepers who were being besieged by Syrian rebels in UN Area Positions 68 and 69 in the disputed territory.

Aquino gets report 

Catapang said the DFA had been furnished a copy of the AFP report on the incident to President Aquino.

He said the Philippine contingent would just wait for the end of its tour of duty in October.

“Let’s just prepare for a heroes’ welcome for our soldiers,” Catapang said.

As to promotions for the peacekeepers, Catapang said the AFP leadership would have to study this.


Malacañang on Friday said the Filipino peacekeepers deserve a heroes’ welcome when they return to the Philippines after the courage they showed against the Syrian rebels.

“They were very gallant in defending their position and, certainly, they will be appreciated and recognized and they will be commended for their bravery in putting themselves in harm’s way,” presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda told state-run Radyo ng Bayan.

“The Filipino peacekeepers who kept the Syrian rebels at bay for seven hours, their determined resolve not to surrender despite being put in harm’s way show the true grit and steeled discipline of the Filipino soldiers. They deserve a heroes’ welcome as well,” Lacierda said.

Lacierda said the DFA will be the one to “address concerns raised” over the disparaging statements made by the commander of the United Nations Disengagement Observers Force (Undof) against the Philippine contingent.

Decision to keep silent 

Some AFP officials said the decision to keep mum was in keeping with a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) statement calling on the parties involved to cooperate with Undof.

The UNSC, in a statement issued shortly after discussions on the Golan Heights situation, said it was continuing to look at ways to enhance safety and security procedures in what has become a “very challenging situation.”

Fijian and Filipino peacekeepers were serving with the Undof commanded by Lt. Gen. Iqbal Singh Singha and were monitoring a ceasefire established in 1974 between Israel and Syria.

Singha has denied issuing orders to Col. James Ezra Enriquez, the Undof chief of staff and commander of the Philippine contingent, for the Filipino peacekeepers to surrender their firearms if attacked by Syrian rebels while negotiations for the release of a group of Fijian peacekeepers seized by the rebels were being conducted.

Those in Position 68, however, exchanged fire with the attacking rebels for seven hours before finally escaping from the camp while those in Position 69 were extricated by other UN forces. With a report from Nikko Dizon 


Filipino peacekeepers’ defiance of order to surrender recalled  

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In the know: Filipino peacekeepers

TAGS: Filipino peacekeepers, Golan Heights, Gregorio Catapang, Syrian rebels, UN Peacekeeping force

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