Safety of Pinoys in Syria gov’t priority

Safety of Pinoys in Syria gov’t priority
By Jelly Musico

MANILA (Philippines News Agency) — Malacañang on Monday said the safety of Filipinos in Syria is the government’s priority amid the reported US-led airstrike in response to alleged chemical weapons attack that killed 58 people in a rebel-held town in northwestern Syria.

The firing of projectiles from planes and ships of the joint forces of US, United Kingdom and France on Syria’s weapon facilities drew criticism from some countries, including Russia and China.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Palace’s priority is the safety of over 1,000 Filipinos in Syria and refused to give comment on the US-led strikes against Syria.

“So our priority is their safety and we will make later our policy statement regarding the issue of bombing in Syria,” Roque said in a Palace press briefing.

Roque said as member of the United Nations, the Philippines is bound by the UN Charter’s Chapter 7, which says the use of force must be the way of self-defense or when authorized by the UN Security Council.

“But there is also new development in international, the so-called responsibility to protect. So, our government is balancing that kind of opinion. But right now, what we are giving top importance is the safety of our countrymen in Syria,” Roque said.

When asked if the Philippines would contribute to the US forces, Roque said he would rather wait for any instruction from President Rodrigo Duterte.

“I know about that. But I’d rather that he gives me directive by way of instructions on what to announce to the public. Let’s await the statement from the President,” he said. (With reports from Elijah Mendoza-OJT/PNA)

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