RP will not withdraw forces from Iraq: Ople

DESPITE the daily attacks on the US-led coalition in post-war Iraq, the Philippines will not withdraw its own humanitarian contingent there, Foreign Affairs Secretary Blas F. Ople said.

"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 region," he said.

Ople, who is chairperson of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Humanitarian Assistance to Iraq, said that the Philippines was very much aware of the security situation on the ground, and that all measures were being taken to ensure the safety of the Philippine Humanitarian Contingent in Iraq.

"We have very dedicated medical and social workers providing important services that have improved and saved the lives of Iraqis.

"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 and welfare of our contingent.

"We monitor the situation on a very regular basis and are confident that there are no specific threats against our countrymen who wear our flag proudly as they carry out their humanitarian tasks," he said.

Ople was echoing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's statement that the Philippines would continue to maintain its presence in Iraq.

The Philippines will be actively engaged on the issue of Iraq when it assumes its non-permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council in January next year, Ople said.

07/11/2003

Bron : Inq7.net

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