• Aquino hits UN for ‘mission impossible’

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    President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Wednesday said the mission given by the United

     Filipino peacekeepers who recently arrived from the Golan Heights march under a shower of yellow confetti during a welcome ceremony at the armed forces headquarters in Quezon City.   AFP PHOTO

    Filipino peacekeepers who recently arrived from the Golan Heights march under a shower of yellow confetti during a welcome ceremony at the armed forces headquarters in Quezon City. AFP PHOTO

    Nations to Filipino peacekeepers in the Golan Heights in the Middle East was unclear and impossible to carry out.

    Speaking at a ceremony at Malacañang honoring the peacekeepers, the President said their mission was to “separate the opposing forces of Israel and Syria,” which face each other across the Golan Heights, but the situation changed when the Syrian rebels kept “popping up” in the disputed territory.

    Aquino said the UN’s rejection of his request to give the peacekeepers more weapons had left them unnecessarily vulnerable when al-Qaeda-linked Syrian rebels attacked and surrounded them in August.

    “Our request for more arms was denied . . . and our fears were realized when the stand-off happened,” he noted.

    The rebels surrounded 75 Filipino “blue helmets,” as the UN’s peacekeeping forces are often referred to, manning two positions in the Golan Heights and demanded that they lay down their arms.

    The Filipinos refused to yield, resulting in a two-day standoff.

    The stalemate ended after 35 of the peacekeepers were escorted by UN troops out of their post and the remaining 40 sneaked out under the cover of night after trading fire with the rebels for seven hours.

    The Armed Forces of the Philippines chief, Gen. Gregorio Catapang, said the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) commander, an Indian general, ordered the Filipino soldiers to surrender as a way of securing the release of Fijian peacekeepers whom the rebels seized earlier.

    The President said it may “not [be]the time for pointing fingers,” but because of the incident, the government is reviewing all of the Philippines’ peacekeeping missions.

    He added that results of the UN investigation of the incident will be “the basis of whether we will again participate” in peacekeeping missions in the Golan Heights.

    ”We cannot put our troops in a situation wherein the mission is impossible or not clear. What’s important are the lives of each one,” Aquino said.

    The peacekeepers, according to the President, made the right decision in escaping since laying down their arms would have endangered their lives.

    Aquino praised them for fulfilling their duties and gaining the admiration of the country.

    ”You truly withstood the conditions despite our limited resources,” the President said.

    ”Because of that, the whole country admires you. This is truly the life, quality, skill, courage and competence of our armed forces.”

    Next mission
    The 330 Filipino peacekeepers in the Golan Heights returned to the Philippines in two batches last month.

    The President announced that the troops’ next mission is to guard Pope Francis when he visits the country in January and the participants to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference in Manila, also in 2015.

    Contingent Commander Lt. Col. Ted Dumusmog will lead the soldiers in their next mission.

    In an interview, Dumusmog said before they train for their next mission, the peacekeepers will go on a 15-day furlough to spend time with their families.

    “We are conducting the reorganizing of our units. Definitely it will be a different mission and we are already preparing our training,” he added.

    Dumusmog said they have not received the details of the Pope’s itinerary, which will guide their training.

    He added that the peacekeepers will work closely with the Philippine National Police, which will be in charge of the Pope’s security.

    Dumusmog described the mission as “challenging, as it is different from the combat missions they usually engage in.”

    He expressed confidence that his troops are up to the challenge.

    “[For] most of them, it will be the first time for them to see the Pope. They are very much excited,” Dumusmog said.

    With a report from AFP

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    3 Comments

    1. This is so stupid. Aquino does not even know the meaning of “peace keeping”. So he sent our troops to ignore the UN command and attack?

    2. Who is mischievous PNoy to talk about military tactics or military operations. Is he a graduate of advance ROTC or basic ROTC? Did he even take CAT at the Ateneo or is he just parroting what that lame retired Gen. Gazmin want him to say Does PNoy know what is the mission and vision of the UN security forces? Let us see if PNoy can give all the incentives and perks those Philippine contingent received while serving the U.N. Pnoy is simply a stupid cow who just keeps of parroting what his cabinet men want him to say.

    3. Bert O. Romero on

      The mission was unclear and impossible? Then why did the Ph government accep it in the first place? And it is not as if this was the first time ever the Philippines sent peace keeping troops. Ph has been engaged with UN in peacekeeping efforts and our thousands of troops had been receiving salaries, allowances and other fringe benefits during their stint. As a matter of fact, it’s widely known in the AFP that being selected as a member of the Philippine contingent is a premium assignment which is dreamed of by every soldier, despite the reported deductions exacted from their UN – allocated benefits. And it is known that foreign troops seconded to the UN as peacekeepers become directly under the command and control of the UN during their tour and no longer under the AFP. But at the height of this incident involving these PH troops in the Golan Heights, there was this anomalous situation of Secretaries del Rosario and Gazmin giving orders to the PH troops in the Heights thereby bypassing the UN chain of command. There must be something more to this Golan Heights incident that meets the eye which explains why President Aquino and these two cabinet secretaries have gone out of their way to underscore the bravery of the Philippine contingent. If the reliability and steadfastness of Ph commitment were raised during their sudden withdrawal from Iraq during the Angelo de la Cruz kidnap for ransom incident during President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s administration, it is hoped this Golan Heights incident does not hide skeletons in the closet.