MANILA – Malacañang on Thursday said contingency plans are in place in case a crisis hits Guam, the tiny United States territory recently thrust into the middle of the growing tension between the US and North Korea.
“Regarding Filipinos in Guam, the embassies and consulates in general, including the one in Hagåtña, Guam, have contingency plans which are regularly updated to enable them to respond to emergencies,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a news conference.
“[It’s] pretty automatic that if there are any threats, especially for those who are in affected areas, they have contingency plans for those things,” he said.
On Wednesday, North Korea said it was "carefully examining" plans for a missile strike on the US Pacific territory hours after US President Donald Trump told the North that any threat to the United States would be met with "fire and fury".
The exchange of threats has alarmed the tiny island, which is home to about 160,000 people, about 40 percent of whom are Filipinos, according to Norman Analista, president of the Filipino Community of Guam.
"We're very concerned about the news but we've been given assurance by the local government, primarily through Governor Eddie Calvo, that he is working with the military to ensure that the safety of all the residents are the utmost priority," Analista said.
But even with the assurance, the Filipino community gave mixed reactions to the threat.
"Some people are very nervous about it. Some people think this is another one of the threats by North Korea and are not taking it very seriously," Analista said in a phone interview with DZMM on Thursday morning.
North Korea has made no secret its plans to develop a nuclear-tipped missile able to strike the United States and has ignored international calls to halt its nuclear and missile programs.
The U.N. Security Council unanimously imposed new sanctions on North Korea on Saturday over its continued missile tests.
At a recent meeting in Manila, Southeast Asian foreign ministers also reiterated their call for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and expressed "grave concern" over North Korea's continued nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches that "threaten peace, security and stability in the region."