21 Filipino UN peacekeepers still with Syrian rebels

By
March 08 2013
TO BE OR NOT TO BE.  DND Secretary Voltaire Gazmin says Friday that his department will review the country’s all peacekeeping missions following the capture of 21 Filipino UN peacekeepers by Syrian rebels Wednesday at the Golan Heights in Syria.  The DFA, UN and EU have called for the immediate and unconditional release of the Filipino peacekeepers.  (davaotoday.com photo by Ace R. Morandante)

TO BE OR NOT TO BE. DND Secretary Voltaire Gazmin says Friday that his department will review the country’s all peacekeeping missions following the capture of 21 Filipino UN peacekeepers by Syrian rebels Wednesday at the Golan Heights in Syria. The DFA, UN and EU have called for the immediate and unconditional release of the Filipino peacekeepers. (davaotoday.com photo by Ace R. Morandante)

As this developed, DND’s Gazmin said President Aquino has asked his department to review all peacekeeping missions “kung eto’y makakabuti ba sa atin o mas kailangan natin ang mga tropa natin dito sa ating bansa (if it’s good for the country or if we need more of our troops to remain here).”

By MARILOU AGUIRRE-TUBURAN
Davao Today

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – A day after President Benigno Aquino III assured that the 21 Filipino United Nations (UN) peacekeepers are going to be released late Thursday, the Philippine government announced that the group is still being held by the Syrian rebels.

However, Secretary Voltaire Gazmin of the Department of National Defense (DND) told media practitioners here Friday that the Defense Minister of Syria already declared a ceasefire.

Para sa ganun magkaroon ng pagkakataong ma-extricate yung ating mga tao (to give time for the captured to be extricated from the area),” he said.  “We’re still waiting for the latest developments,” he added.

On Wednesday, the group of Filipino peacekeepers — three Army and 18 enlisted personnel — were flagged down at the exit of Golan Heights while on their way to get water at the Syrian Desert.

The Syrian rebels had earlier promised to release the group on the condition that the Syrian government withdraw its forces from the village of Jamlah.

As this developed, DND’s Gazmin said President Aquino has asked his department to review all peacekeeping missions “kung eto’y makakabuti ba sa atin o mas kailangan natin ang mga tropa natin dito sa ating bansa (if it’s good for the country or if we need more of our troops to remain here).”

Gazmin said that he has tasked the Philippine Armed Forces to make an assessment of the troops in the peacekeeping missions.  “So that makita natin ang mga kakulangan o ang kalakasan ng ating mga pwersa doon (to see both the strengths and weaknesses of our troops),” he said.

The Philippine’s Department of Foreign Affairs, the United Nations and the European Union have called for the immediate and unconditional release of the captured peacekeepers.  (Marilou Aguirre-Tuburan/davaotoday.com)

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