Philippines has 3 conditions for peacekeepers’ continued stay in Golan HeightsJuly 14, 2013 2:32 pm
The Philippines set three conditions for allowing its troops to stay as peacekeepers in the Golan Heights.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario identified the conditions during his meeting with high-ranking United Nations officials at the UN headquarters in New York.
Del Rosario said the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (Undof) in the Golan Heights must meet deploy its mandated full troop strength of 1,250 by October, provide the equipment for the protection and defense of Filipino troops and that the Philippines must be allowed to deploy troops using a six-month rotation.
The government earlier considered pulling out of its 340 peacekeepers in the Golan Heights after two abductions of Filipino troops in March and May.
Japan, Austria and other contributing countries have withdrawn their troops from the disputed zone.
An assessment team sent by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to Golan recommended that Filipino troops stay until August 11, their scheduled rotation.
There is no word on whether President Benigno Aquino 3rd has agreed to send more peacekeepers following calls from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State John Kerry.
During the meeting with del Rosario, UN Undersecretary General Herve Ladsous commended the Philippines for its “contribution to UN peacekeeping operations and particularly its engagement with Undof saying that Undof contributes to security and stability in the Middle East region.”
A statement from Foreign Affairs 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.”
BERNICE CAMILLE V. BAUZON