There is a greater need for soldiers in PH – DFA
MANILA -- The government has decided to pull out Filipino peacekeepers in Golan Heights and Liberia because they are exposed to serious risks in those two nations, the Department of Foreign Affairs explained.
The DFA added that there is a greater need for the Filipino soldiers to be in the Philippines.
“The Philippine government was compelled to pull out its peacekeeping force from Liberia as soon as possible because of the risk factor from Ebola, which has the potential of being catastrophic,” the DFA said in a statement.
Ebola has already killed more than 1,000 people this year, mostly in West Africa.
Meanwhile, the DFA cited “a series of incidents” in Golan Heights, which suggest that the peacekeepers are exposed to “unexpected serious risks which may worsen on the basis of current developments.”
Several Filipinos in the strife-torn Golan Heights have been abducted in the past, forcing Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario to recommend to President Benigno Aquino III the withdrawal of the troops.
Del Rosario later dropped his recommendation when the United Nations, where the peacekeepers are employed, promised that they will be given ample security.
“In the case of Golan Heights, the UN has been aware over time that the Philippine government has been carefully assessing the evolving situation,” the DFA said.
The Department of National Defense announced the plan Saturday. “The 331-strong Filipino contingent serving as part of the United Nations Disengagement Force (UNDOF) in the Golan Heights will be repatriated at the end of their tour of duty in October,” it said, adding that the 115 Filipinos in Liberia will also be repatriated as soon as possible.
The Philippines has been serving in Liberia since 2004, and in Golan Heights since 2009.
Defense spokesman Peter Paul Galvez said troops won’t return to the Golan Heights "unless the situation improves.”