MANILA - The Philippines is keeping silent on recent Western attacks on Syria until authorities secure some 1,000 Filipinos in the Arab country, Malacañang said Monday.
The US, France and Britain on Saturday launched 105 missiles targeting what the Pentagon said were 3 chemical weapons facilities in Syria in retaliation for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's alleged use of chemical weapons earlier this month.
Assad is an ally of Russia, with whom President Rodrigo Duterte has sought closer ties following criticism of his war on drugs by the previous US administration.
Moscow and the Syrian government have denied responsibility for the April 7 poison gas attack in Douma that killed dozens of people.
"Mayroon po tayong humigit kumulang 1,000 kababayan sa Syria. Inaatupag muna po natin iyung kanilang kaligtasan at saka na po tayo gagawa ng policy statement pagdating po mismo doon sa issue ng pambobomba sa Syria," Duterte's spokesperson Harry Roque told reporters.
(We have some 1,000 Filipinos in Syria. We are prioritizing their safety before we draft a policy statement on the bombing of Syria.)
The Philippine policy statement, he said, will "balance" the doctrine of states' responsibility to protect, and the United Nations charter which allows states to use force only for self-defense or when authorized by the UN Security Council.
The Syria bombings marked the biggest intervention by Western countries against Assad and ally Russia.
The US, France and Britain have said the missile strikes were limited to Syria's chemical weapons capabilities and not aimed at toppling Assad or intervening in the civil war.
With a report from Reuters