THE Philippines will no longer send a fresh batch of Filipino peacekeepers to the Golan Heights.
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. on Thursday admitted that the government is not inclined to provide troops to augment the United Nations’ peacekeeping force in the troubled region. The Filipino troops deployed in the Golan Heights will be pulled out in October.
“Kung maalala natin, bago pa sumiklab ‘yung insidente ‘nung nakaraang linggo ay naihayag na ‘yung pasya na tatapusin na lamang ‘yung current tour of duty at ‘yon ang desisyon [If you recall, even before the incident last week, we have already announced the decision to just finish the (troops’) current tour of duty and that is the decision],” he told reporters.
“We want to complete our tour of duty and wind down our UN [United Nations] commitment in the proper way,” Coloma said.
Last week, 75 Filipino troops were caught in a standoff with Syrian rebels who had captured 45 Fijian peacekeepers.
Coloma clarified that the decision not to send a new batch of peacekeepers had nothing to do with the recent standoff.
According to the Department of Defense, the Philippines will be pulling out hundreds of soldiers supporting UN peacekeeping missions in Liberia and Syria because of growing security and health threats. These troops are composed of 115 Philippine Air Force personnel deployed to Liberia in July 2012 and 331 troops sent to the Golan Heights in November 2012.
The withdrawal of Philippine troops in Liberia has become a priority as the death toll from Ebola has risen to 1,350 in the region.
Three countries in Africa–Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone–are suffering from an Ebola outbreak, prompting neighbors to clamp down shared borders because of fears of a possible flare-up.
More than 600 AFP personnel are deployed in nine mission areas around the world for various UN peacekeeping duties.
The AFP has also sent military observers to India and Pakistan, the UN Mission in Sudan, UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste and the Ivory Coast.