By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang Monday asked Filipinos in Guam and in South Korea to get in touch with Philippine embassies for contingency plan amid the threats of North Korea to strike Guam with missiles.
This follows Pyongyang’s threat to strike Guam, an American territory 1,757 miles south of North Korea, with missiles as the tension between North Korea and the United States continues to grow.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella Monday morning appealed to the Filipinos in Guam and in the Korean Peninsula to communicate with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
“We ask all Filipinos in Guam and Korea and their families here to inform DFA or our consular officials of their whereabouts,” Abella said during the Mindanao Hour press briefing yesterday,
Abella also commended the Philippine Embassy in Seoul and the consulate in Agana, Guam for their contingency plan to secure Filipinos if and when military conflict erupts.
The Palace official reiterated the Palace’s earlier statement that all concerned parties should desist from threats and to start talks to “de-escalate the tension and to refrain from actions that may aggravate the situation on the Korean Peninsula.”
“We continue to enjoin all concerned parties to desist from threats and military action and we enjoin all sides to start talks, which should be greatly facilitated by an end to missile test and attack threats,” Abella said.
On Sunday, Abella said the Philippine Embassy in Seoul and the Consulate General in Agana have been monitoring the situation and have been working closely with the Filipino communities there to ensure preparedness for any eventuality.
Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar earlier said as chairman of this year’s Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meet, the Philippines is doing its part in reducing the tension which the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) tagged as a “cause for concern” despite the strike being unlikely to hit the Philippines.
“Kung ano man ang magiging role ng Pilipinas, lalung-lalo na ngayon na chairman po tayo ng ASEAN (Whatever the role of the Philippines here is, especially now that we’re the chairman of the ASEAN), we’re already actually doing what we’re supposed to do,” Andanar told Brigada News FM.
“Ginagampanan po natin ang mga dapat nating gampanan bilang chairman ng ASEAN at nakita niyo naman kung ano yung nangyari noong Foreign Ministers Forum last week. Nakita niyo naman kung paano kinausap nina [Foreign Affairs] Secretary [Alan] Cayetano at iba pong foreign ministers ang North Korea (We’re doing our part as chairman of ASEAN and you saw what happened last week when Secretary Cayetano and the other foreign ministers talked to North Korea),” he added.
North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho attended the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) annual ministerial meeting in Manila last week.
During the ASEAN forum last week, President Duterte expressed his intent to make North Korea a dialogue partner of the 50-year-old regional organization.
However, Andanar clarified that the Philippines shares the concern of the United States and assured that the Philippines will stand by its long-time ally, along with Japan and South Korea.
“DFA Secretary Cayetano [is] on top of the situation. And of course, our President is also aware of what is happening,” he added.
Andanar also said that it is unlikely that North Korea would involve the Philippines despite its close ties with the United States.
“Alam naman ng North Korea kung sino ang mga kalaban niya, alam niya kung sino ang mga kaalyado ng America (North Korea knows who its enemies are, it knows who are the allies of America are),” he said.
“But as an ASEAN country and chairman of ASEAN, kailangan nating maging responsable (we need to be responsible). At the same time, we always act together with our ASEAN neighbors and of course as an ally of the United States,” he added.