Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario laid down three conditions for the Philippines to retain its peacekeeping force in Golan Heights.
In his meeting with United Nations (UN) officials in New York City, del Rosario said the UN should maintain its Disengagement Observer Force troop strength at 1, 250, procure the needed equipment for the defense and protection of Filipino troops by October, and allow the Philippines to deploy troops on a six-month rotation.
The Philippines briefly considered pulling out its troops from Golan Heights after two separate kidnappings in March and May. Although the abducted Filipino peacekeepers were released, another one was injured during a separate operation last month. On the other hand, an assessment team sent by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) recommended the continued stay of the Filipino troops until the scheduled rotation on August 11.
Meanwhile, UN Undersecretary General Herve Ladsous commended the Philippines for its contribution to UN peacekeeping operations.
Japan, Austria and other countries have already withdrawn their troops from Golan Heights. However, President Benigno Aquino 3rd has yet to agree to the deployment of additional peacekeepers to Syria, following calls from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State John Kerry.
A statement from the Foreign Affairs department said Ladsous understood the Philippines’ position and agreed that “providing more robust self-defense capabilities for Undof personnel would be vital to the success of the mission.”