Seoul situation still normal
SEOUL, South Korea - Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) can still go to South Korea despite the tension in the peninsula, a Palace official said Sunday.
The deployment of some 50 OFWs heading to Seoul last week was only deferred for a week, deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said.
“Nagkaroon ng confusion. Some media thought may ban on deployment. It’s not the case as affirmed by [Labor Secretary Rosalinda] Baldoz,” Valte said on Radyo ng Bayan.
“By the week lang po yung deferment. Hindi po apektado iyun pong ibang aalis. Para lang po sa linggong ito ang deferment, hindi po sa iba pang aalis ngayong Disyembre,” she added.
A Philippine special envoy who is now in Seoul confirmed Valte’s statement.
Retired Gen. Roy Cimatu said in a telephone interview with ABS-CBN News that some OFWs’ arrival in South was delayed for 7 days amid the tension between the North and the South.
The decision is based on the prevailing alert level in South Korea, Cimatu said Saturday.
“It was really a decision to hold in abeyance only for 7 days. May pupunta na sana dito sa Seoul but because of some worries on what will happen, so may konting delay lang muna,” he explained.
“Sa alert level kasi nag-babase ang decision. Hangga’t hindi nagmo-move ang alert level 1 na ‘yan. ganyan pa rin ang decision. Mare-restore pa rin yun after 7 days.”
Valte said President Benigno Aquino III has ordered related government agencies to assess the situation between the 2 Koreas.
“Hanggang hindi po naisasara yung issue ng tension sa Korean peninsula, ipagpapatuloy assessment at corresponding action,” she added.
“Walang pagbabawal. Walang ban. Ayaw lang po kasi na… baka po mas mabuti na maging prudent muna tayo tingnan natin mangyayari in the next couple of days para hindi malagay sa alanganin mga OFWs, para ma-avert po natin kung sakali na may hindi magandang mangyari, still hoping the tension,” the Palace spokesperson said.
Cimatu, meanwhile, said Foreign Affairs officials have met to discuss the possible evacuation of OFWs if the situation in the Korean Peninsula worsens.
“We are making analysis and assessment dito sa Seoul, at napagusapan nga naming yung levels 1,2,3,4 kung anong levels dapat i-warrant for evacuation,” Cimatu revealed.
The situation in Seoul remains normal, the Philippines’ special envoy said.
“Umikot kami around Seoul kanina, normal naman. There are no incidents, no firings, or indications na may kaguluhan,” he said.
He added Seoul has not declared a state of emergency.
“This is an indication that they are still containing, managing the situation so wala pa namang nagtataas ng alert level,” he added.
The situation, however, may change once the war games between South Korea and the United States begins this week.
“We are still anticipating itong pagpasok ng aircraft carrier. Itong exercise ang wino-worry kasi nakaka-provoke ito sa North Korea,” he explained.
“We hope and pray na walang mangyari na hindi ma-provoke ang North Korea. Kasi this can trigger unfortunate incidents na mangyari kasi hindi natin alam ang reaction ng North Korea,” Cimatu added.