MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Army is sending off 336 peacekeepers to Golan Heights to join the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF). It’s the first batch to leave for the volatile region after the Philippines threatened to pull out the troops because of the security situation there.
The all-Army team composed of 49 officers and 287 enlisted personnel commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Tel Dumosmog is the 7th Philippine Contingent to Golan Heights. The Philippines began sending troops in November 2009.
Army chief Lieutenant General Noel Coballes led the send-off ceremony on Thursday, November 28. They will leave for Golan in batches beginning November 29, Friday.
Rebels from neighboring Syria abducted Filipino peacekeepers in March and in May this year as the country continues to spiral into violence. There were also concerns about chemical warfare following the death of 1,300 people in Syria allegedly because of chemical weapons. (READ: Filipino peacekeepers released and AFP: PH troops in Golan ready vs chemical warfare)
The Filipino peacekeepers who figured in the abductions are expected to return to the Philippines in December.
Coballes said the United Nations assured the government that the Filipino peacekeepers will be given adequate support and protection. (READ: PH sets conditions for Golan peacekeepers)
“Let me assure you that our President and Commander-in-Chief, Benigno S Aquino III, has received a guarantee from the United Nations that measures will be put in place for our personal safety and well-being while you are on detail with the UNDOF,” Coballes said.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines is also sending peacekeepers to Haiti, Afghanistan, Cote d’ Ivoire, Darfur, Kashmir, Liberia, Sudan, and Timor-Leste. (READ: PH’s first woman peacekeeping commander off to Haiti) — Rappler.com