MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Philippine defense department on Saturday, August 12, said it has directed one of its agencies to determine areas to be “potentially although remotely” affected by debris if North Korea launches missiles toward Guam.
The Department of National Defense (DND) said it has issued this directive to the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), the agency in charge of responding to natural and man-made disasters.
In a statement on Saturday, the DND said the OCD may also issue no-sail zone advisories to coastal areas, as they prepare for possible North Korean missile debris.
The OCD, too, may send alert advisories to local government agencies.
“Our Office of Civil Defense is on standby and prepared to address any untoward incident that may occur in the aftermath of such a missile launch,” the DND said.
A no-sail-zone advisory will hinder sea vehicles such as motor boats from traveling in specific areas.
In 2012, the Philippines had already implemented no-fly, no-sail, and no-fishing zones in connection with a rocket launch staged by North Korea.
Civil defense, not military issue
The Philippines’ preparations come after North Korea on Thursday, August 10, threatened to launch 4 intermediate-range missiles toward Guam, the US island territory in the western Pacific, as tension between the two countries continue to rise.
While it is closely monitoring the situation, DND assured the public that the missile launch is not directed at the Philippines. (READ: Will North Korea’s missile threats affect Filipinos?)
“We are treating this more as a civil defense rather than a military issue,” it said.
Treating it as a civil defense issue means preparing to protect civilians in case of emergencies. In other words, if the Philippines is hit by debris from a possible missile launch, the government is ready to respond but not to stage a counterattack.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Friday, August 11, also said that there was only a “remote” chance that debris from a possible missile strike near Guam would reach the country.
“We don’t see this as potentially hitting us in any way because it is directed towards an outer island in the Pacific itself,” AFP spokesman Brigadier General Restituto Padilla said. “So whatever fallout it may have, maybe because of debris, if it disintegrates up there.”
Malacañang, for its part, has urged continued exercise of self-restraint among all parties to avoid worsening of the situation.
Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella also said the Philippine Embassy in Seoul and the Consulate General in Agana have been “closely” monitoring the situation to prepare for any eventuality.
“The Philippines reiterates its call for continued exercise of self-restraint in order to de-escalate the tension and to refrain from actions that may aggravate the situation on the Korean Peninsula,” Abella said in a statement on Sunday, August 13. – Rappler.com