Aug 252014

MANILA, Philippines – Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said that there is still a possibility that Filipino peacekeepers may return to their assignments abroad.

Gazmin on Monday said that they would assess the situation on when the troops can return to their assignments.

UN Filipino peacekeepers. FILE PHOTO

“It’s still probable that they may return,” Gazmin said. “We have threat assessments, periodic threat assessments.”

“If the situation improves, why not?”

On Saturday, the Department of National Defense said that they would pull out its peacekeeping troops, under the UN, amid the worsening conflict in Golan Heights and the heightening threat of the Ebola virus in Liberia.

DND spokesman Peter Galvez said the 331 peacekeepers in Golan Heights would be sent home once their tour of duty ends in October while the 115 troops in Liberia “would be repatriated as soon as possible.”

Gazmin said the reason for the pull out was the heightening threats in both countries adding that President Benigno Aquino III has a responsibility to protect every Filipino.

“Threats are getting worse and the President needs to protect every Filipino citizen,” Gazmin said. “In terms of security, we have a physical threat in Golan Heights and a health risk in Liberia.”

Golan Heights is smack in the middle of the war zone between Israel and Palestine where air strikes occur frequently while Liberia is the epicenter of the Ebola virus.

Gazmin, however, said that other peacekeepers deployed in other countries are to stay put, like the 156-strong contingent in Haiti.

For the possibility of redeployment in other areas, Gazmin said that they would follow the assessment of the UN on where to put the Filipino troops.

“We are looking into it and the UN would make a recommendation on where to deploy them.”


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