Pinoy contingent stays in Iraq, says Ople

By Jowie F. Corpuz, Correspondent

The Philippine contingent will stay in Iraq despite the deadly attacks staged by loyalists of toppled leader Saddam Hussein against coalition forces occupying the war-torn country, Foreign Affairs Secretary Blas Ople said on Thursday.

“There is a need to continue helping the people of Iraq in rebuilding their country; this is not the time to abandon them. We acknowledge that the situation in Iraq is a delicate one but now is not the time to withdraw. We continue to maintain our political and humanitarian commitment to the people of Iraq and to the stability and security of the Middle East,” Ople said.

He pointed out that Filipino diplomats who regularly monitor the situation in Iraq ensure the safety of the Philippine contingent, adding that no specific threats have been identified against the Filipino humanitarian team.

“We also have very professional and seasoned members of our military and police who, together with the security forces of other countries, are looking after the safety of our contingent,” he said.

The team of doctors, soldiers and policemen there, Ople added, “proudly wears the Philippine flag as they carry out their humanitarian tasks.”

He announced that the country will also actively address the Iraq issue when the Philippines formally assumes its nonpermanent seat in the United Nations Security Council in January next year.

In a related development, the reduction in the size of the Philippine Embassy staff in Baghdad is not a sign that the country’s diplomats are terrified of terrorist attacks.  

“This is just administrative adjustments which are not normally broadcast to the public,” Ople said.

06/11/2003

Bron : The Manila Times

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