• Military downplays impact of North Korea plan to launch missiles at Guam

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    THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) allayed fears over the possible impact of North Korea’s plan to launch ballistic missiles at the US Pacific territory of Guam on Manila, which is some 1,500 miles away.

    In a press conference, Brigadier General Restituto Padilla Jr., AFP spokesman, said the possibility that the Philippines may be hit if North Korea proceeded with its threat of a missile strike against Guam was “remote.”

    “It’s a source of concern that’s why the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) leaders or foreign ministers discussed it thoroughly and came up with a statement. But we don’t see this as potentially hitting us in any way because it is directed towards an outer island in the Pacific itself,” Padilla told reporters.

    “If it (North Korea’s ballistic missiles launch) disintegrates atmosphere potentially, it would have shattered debris that may scatter around in the area or its trajectory. So it could hit some northern coastal areas. We have to forewarn our citizens to be on the lookout. But that’s something that we see as remote,” he added.

    Padilla made the statement after North Korean Strategic Force of the Korean People’s Army said on Thursday that it was “seriously examining a plan” to launch a missile in Guam. This was after US President Donald Trump warned that Pyongyang would face “fire and fury lie like the world has never seen,” should it continue to threaten America.

    North Korea was reportedly mulling to send Hwasong-12 intermediate-range strategic ballistic rockets “to interdict the enemy forces on major military bases on Guam.”

    Amid the growing tensions between the US and North Korea, Padilla was also confident that there “is still a lot of room for dialogue” to thwart North Korea’s plan.

    “Because of the recent Asean meeting, we saw the presence of the foreign minister of North Korea. If they are intently going to do what they have been announcing, then the foreign minister would not have gone there. So I think there is still a lot of room for dialogue, a lot of room for talks. And we see this as a positive sign,” he said.

    Meanwhile, Assistant Secretary Kristoffer James Purisima, deputy administrator for administration of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), said the government was closely monitoring the potential missile strike.

    Puriama said the OCD would also coordinate with concerned government agencies to ensure the safety and security of the Filipino people, should the Philippines get hit by the forthcoming attack by North Korea against the US.

    “OCD is closely monitoring the situation. We will coordinate with the DND (Department of Defense), AFP, and relevant government agencies and meet necessary assessments in order to prepare appropriate contingency plans, alerts, and warnings for the awareness and protection of our civilian populists,” he said.

    “And we assure our civilian populists, we assure the people that preparations are being made for any eventuality and we will inform communities that may be affected,” Purisima added.

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