MANILA - The Philippine military on Friday said the possibility of debris from a North Korean missile hitting the Philippines is "remote" in case the reclusive nation makes good on its threat to attack Guam.
With tensions rising between North Korea and the US, Pyongyang has threatened to hit Washington’s tiny island territory in the Pacific, located some 1,500 miles from Philippine capital Manila.
"If ever it disintegrates in the atmosphere, potentially it would have debris," Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson Restituto Padilla Jr. said in a news conference in Malacañang.
"It could hit some northern coastal areas. We have to forewarn our citizens to be on the lookout, but that’s something we see as remote."
Padilla said while the North Korean threat is a source of concern, the Philippine government is optimistic that diplomatic mechanisms between North Korea and the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN), which the Philippines currently chairs, will ease the tension.
"There’s still a lot of room for dialogue," he said.
"We may [have been just caught] in the middle of some verbal tussle between two countries,” he added, referring to North Korea and the US.
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.
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 UN 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." - with Reuters