• 4 cargo planes ready to evacuate Filipinos from S. Korea

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    THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is ready to airlift Filipinos in South Korea if the tension between North and South Korea escalates, a military official said on Monday.

    “We are always in close coordination with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in crisis situation such as this. This had happened before so our air assets are ready to support whatever the decision or the policy of the DFA,” said Col. Noel Detoyato, chief of the AFP Public Affairs Office.

    Detoyato said if there is a need to repatriate Filipinos in the Korean peninsula, C-295 and three C-130 cargo planes are always on a standby.

    “They are always ready if the Department of Foreign Affairs needs them. Unlike a year ago or two years ago, we only have one C-130 flying. But now, we have C-130s and a brand new C-295,” he added.

    The AFP official said while they are in close coordination with the DFA, there is already a standing procedure when it comes to a similar situation.

    “We have established procedures on that, protocols and system because it happened in the past. It is just a matter of putting up the system. Like in the past we already have processes and procedures whenever the DFA needs the assets of the AFP, we will be dedicating assets for repatriation or otherwise. But as of now no info was relayed to us about what is happening in South Korea or if there is a need for those assets,” he explained.

    Nevertheless, Detoyato said AFP Chief-of-Staff, Gen. Hernando Iriberri has issued a directive to put the cargo planes on standby for any eventuality.

    North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un put his front-line troops on ‘war footing’ to back up an ultimatum for South Korea to halt high-decibel propaganda broadcasts across the border or face concerted military action.

    Military tensions on the divided Korean peninsula soared after a rare exchange of artillery fire on Thursday that put the South Korean army on maximum alert.

    FERNAN MARASIGAN

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