UN peacekeeping officials arrive in Manila

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HIGH-RANKING officials from the United Nations (UN) arrived in Manila on Wednesday to discuss the country’s participation in the agency’s peacekeeping operations in various strife-torn areas around the world.

Lt. Gen. Babacar Gaye, military adviser of the UN Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations, and Col. Sergio Filippi, chief of Current Military Operations of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (UNDPKO) met with representatives from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP), and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).

Gaye and Filippi were invited to take part in the National Council for UN Peace Operations (NCUNPO), which is tasked to oversee the Philippines’ participation in UN’s peacekeeping efforts.

In a statement, Gaye commended the Philippines for its presence in the UN peacekeeping missions despite the threat posed to its nationals, particularly the abduction of two groups of Filipino peacekeepers in separate occasions at Golan Heights.

Meanwhile, Jesus Domingo, DFA’s assistant secretary for the Office of the United Nations and other International Organizations, thanked the UN officials for securing the release of the Filipinos from their Syrian abductors, who accused the peacekeepers of being partial to Israel.

The Philippines has deployed a total of 843 Filipinos in eight peacekeeping missions abroad. About 342 of them are in Golan Heights, a disputed territory between Israel and Syria where a ceasefire has been monitored by the United Nations since 1974.

Malacañang has yet to decide on the pullout of Filipino troops from Golan Heights.

Bernice Camille V. Bauzon

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