MANILA, Philippines – Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario emphasized the “conditionalities” set by the Philippine government for its “continued engagement” in the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in Golan Heights amid continued violence spilling over from strife-torn Syria.
Del Rosario identified the 3 conditions set by the government in a meeting with UN Under-Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations Herve Ladsous and other UN officials on Friday, July 12 at the UN Headquarters in New York, the DFA said in a statement.
Del Rosario identified the 3 conditionalities as follows:
- The UN is able to deploy UNDOF’s mandated full troop strength of 1,250 by October 2013;
- The necessary equipment for the protection and defense of Filipino troops and other UNDOF are procured by October 2013;
- The Philippines be allowed to deploy troops using a six (6) month rotation.
Del Rosario, however, informed Ladsous that the Philippine troops would “in the meantime remain in UNDOF until August 11.”
In an earlier report, President Benigno Aquino III threatened to withdraw Philippine troops from the UN peacekeeping force in Golan Heights “unless they receive anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons, and are protected against chemical arms.”
“We’re trying to identify all the potential threats. Were they to be confronted with tanks, do we have the capability? We [should] get anti-armor,” Aquino said.
In the meeting with Del Rosario, Ladsous agreed that “providing more robust self-defense capabilities for UNDOF personnel would be vital to the success of the Mission.”
Ladsous added that the UN would be working “with all stakeholders to provide what is needed, consistent with the Disengagement Agreement and its protocols.”
In March 2013, 21 Filipino peacekeepers were kidnaped by Syrian rebels as “frontiers of their war against President Bashar al-Assad.” On June 6, a Filipino peacekeeper was wounded, prompting the Philippine government to reconsider its troops’ presence in Golan Heights.
Japan and Croatia had earlier withdrawn their troops from the UNDOF amid the increasing violence from the Syrian civil war. – with reports from Paterno Esmaquel II and Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com