July 10, 2013

Filipino peacekeepers to remain at Golan Heights until Aug. 11

MANILA A Malacanang Palace official announced that President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino has allowed the stay of the more than 300 Filipino peacekeepers at Golan Heights until August 11.

But Secretary Edwin Lacierda, the presidential spokesman, said the continued stay of the peacekeepers would depend on whether the UN could meet the conditions set by the Philippines on their safety and security.

“Subject to meeting considerations which the Philippines has made to enhance the security and safety of our peacekeepers, Aquino has expressed that the Philippines is prepared to continue its participation in the UN Disengagement Observer Force,” Lacierda said.

Earlier, the government said it was considering their withdrawal following the abduction and wounding of some of its peacekeepers due to fighting between Syrian forces and rebels.

But Lacierda said an assessment team composed of military officials and representatives of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has recommended their stay until August 11.

The government is now coordinating with the UN to meet requirements on the safety of the peacekeepers before deciding on the extension of their stay, he said.

Lacierda also said it would be up to the DFA to determine on the withdrawal of the peacekeepers if the UN could not meet its requirements.

Only the Philippines and India were the two remaining nations whose peacekeepers were deployed at Golan Heights following the decision of Austria to withdraw its units due to increasing violence at the area.

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