8:46 am | Sunday, August 17th, 2014
MANILA, Philippines—Malacañang on Saturday said President Benigno Aquino III had yet to decide whether or not to pull out the Filipino peacekeeping forces from the Golan Heights and Liberia, even as the Department of National Defense (DND) had recommended it.
Liberia is among the West African countries stricken by the deadly Ebola virus, while the Golan Heights is the volatile buffer zone between Israel and Syria. The civil war in Syria continues to rage, while to the south Israel is currently involved in a battle of deadly missile barrages with Palestine in Gaza.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said over government run-dzRB radio that Mr. Aquino wanted to be appraised of the protection and safeguards available to the more than 400 Filipino troops deployed to these two places under the UN flag.
“My impression is the President has not made a decision yet. He still wants to know the available safeguards,” Valte said.
There are 115 Filipino soldiers in Liberia and 332 in the Golan Heights.
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the DND recommendation considered the health and security risks faced by the Filipino troops.
Earlier, Mr. Aquino decided that the Filipino peacekeepers in Syria would stay put after two groups of Filipino soldiers were kidnapped weeks apart by Syrian rebels last year, Valte said. Nikko Dizon
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