The Philippine government will not increase the number of Filipino troops deployed in the Golan Heights, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said Wednesday.
Del Rosario had recommended to President Benigno Aquino 3rd to retain the 340-strong Philippine peacekeeping force in the disputed zone between Israel and Syria.
“We are about at 340 and I think it’s the President’s intention to remain at that number,” he told reporters at the sidelines of the celebration of the 46the founding anniversary of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
Del Rosario recommended the retention of Filipino troops in the Golan Heights despite the fact that some of them were kidnapped in March and May, and one Filipino soldier was injured in June.
Del Rosario said the United Nations assured that it will meet the three conditions set by the government for keeping Philippine peacekeepers in the Golan Heights.
The conditions are: the UN must be able to deploy Undof’s mandated full troop strength of 1,250 by October 2013, that UN provide the necessary equipment for the protection and defense of Filipino troops and other peacekeepers by October, and the Philippines must be allowed to deploy troops on a six-month rotation.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had urged Manila to send more Filipino troops to the Golan.
The Philippine government had considered pulling out its troops from the Golan Heights after the kidnappings.
Japan, Austria and other countries have withdrawn their troops from the area.
BERNICE CAMILLE V. BAUZON