MANILA - Presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr., expressed concern on Tuesday for Filipinos caught in the middle of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, even as he said there is no need for the Philippines to take sides in the conflict.
At a general assembly of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines in Pasay City, Marcos Jr. said his stand on the conflict in Ukraine is “always in the national interest.”
"I worry about our nationals -- marami nang umabot sa Poland but there are some who don’t want to be repatriated, so that's the problem for the Philippines now," he said in a chance interview.
"I don’t think there’s a need to take a stand; we are not involved, except for our nationals."
His statement comes in the wake of the Philippines’ “yes” vote in the United Nations (UN) General Assembly resolution expressing condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“We strongly urge the cessation of hostilities; but while an offense can be stopped at will the defense cannot rest until the offense stops,” the Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement released Monday.
President Rodrigo Duterte also said on a taped address aired Tuesday that he would hold a "special meeting" with law enforcement authorities, businessmen, as well as cabinet members regarding developments in Europe.
"Everybody is invited. The invitation is for all so we can have an exchange of ideas with the military and police, and tayong mga negosyante so they can come up with a sensible front on how to handle these things," he said.
Meanwhile, Manila's ambassador to Poland Leah Basinang-Ruiz said 13 Filipinos from Ukraine were already on their way back to the Philippines. They are part of the at least 215 Filipinos accounted for in the war-torn country that are seeking repatriation.
More Filipinos are expected to go home in the coming days as they cross from the western Ukrainian City of Lviv to Poland.
As of February 28, the Russio-Ukrainian War's civilian death toll is at 102 according to the United Nations.
Yet to decide
Meanwhile, Marcos Jr. also said that he had yet to decide on whether he would attend the Commission on Elections' presidential debate slated on March 19.
"I don’t know, I’m still looking at the format," he said.
Last week, his camp denied that the former senator had agreed to join the Comelec-sponsored event.
But Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez released on social media a picture of a letter from Marcos' National Campaign Manager Benjamin "Benhur" Abalos Jr. indicating the former senator's "readiness to join" the debate.
But in the same letter, the Marcos camp also requested a discussion on the event's ground rules and format. On Monday, Abalos said they had yet to receive feedback from the poll body on the matter.