WORLD

Filipino UNDOF Top Aide Quits

The Armed Forces of the Philippines will continue participating in United Nations peacekeeping missions as long as the lives of its peacekeepers are not compromised, AFP Chief of Staff General
04 Sep 2014 08:20
Filipino UNDOF Top Aide Quits
Water has been leaking onto the Queens Road for some time now, residents have said. Photo: Shalveen Chand

The Armed Forces of the Philippines will continue participating in United Nations peacekeeping missions as long as the lives of its peacekeepers are not compromised, AFP Chief of Staff General Gregorio Pio Catapang said on Tuesday, as the Filipino top aide of the UNDOF commander who gave Philippine peacekeepers a controversial order to yield to Syrian rebels resigned.

“I think we still remain a troop contributor for the UN. In fact, we discussed this. We would like to be part of the United Nations Standby Force if ever there’s another contingent or deployment. But we will have to make sure the lives of our peacekeepers will not be put in grave danger,” Catapang said when asked if the AFP will again send troops to UN-sanctioned peacekeeping missions abroad.

In related developments:

– Philippine Contingent commander Col. Ezra James Enriquez resigned as chief of staff of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) led by Indian Maj. Gen. Iqbal Singh Singha, whose order to yield peacefully to the Syrian rebels was ignored by the Filipino soldiers under siege.

Catapang said the soldiers did right in ignoring Singha because it was their duty to defend their positions, and to yield without a fight could have put their lives in peril, there being no guarantee of safety.

– The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has stepped into the row between the Philippine military and the UNDOF commander, and is helping the AFP craft its letter-complaint to the United Nations against General Singha.

n President Benigno Aquino III sought a full report of last week’s event at Golan Heights, when over 70 Filipino peackeepers manning Positions 68 and 69 were caught in a standoff with Syrian rebels who wanted them to surrender their arms.

The Filipino soldiers refused, knowing that 40 Fijian peacekeepers who earlier yielded their guns had already been taken hostage.

Despite an order by the UNDOF commander for them to give up to keep the peace, the Filipinos held their ground, before making a dash to freedom.

Catapang described as very dangerous what happened to the 75 peacekeepers in Golan Heights who were attacked by the Al Qaeda-linked Syrian rebels.

“We should maintain the status of being a referee. We want to maintain our contribution to peace and harmony in the world but if the referee is the one being boxed, we have a big problem.”

The military top brass would not openly link the resignation of Col. Ezra James Enriquez as chief of staff of General Singha to the AFP’s complaint against the UNDOF commander for issuing an order that the AFP saw as a serious lapse of judgment.

But Catapang confirmed that President Aquino directed him to submit a report of the incident.

DFA, AFP closely consulting

Charles Jose, the DFA spokesman, said, “The DFA is in close consultation with the AFP on this matter,” referring to the complaint over the Golan Heights incident.

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