Plans in place to protect Pinoys in South Korea – Palace
The government is not inclined to issue a travel advisory over tension in the Korean peninsula but Philippine Embassy officials in South Korea are keeping a close eye on the situation there, a Palace spokesperson said.
Usec. Abigail Valte, deputy presidential spokesperson, said in a press briefing on Saturday that the Department of Foreign Affairs is "closely monitoring these developments even as we continue to call for restraint on both sides."
North Korea has put its front-line troops in a "quasi-state of war" over loudspeakers in the South that broadcast anti-Pyongyang propaganda and has demanded that South Korea stop the broadcasts.
Seoul says it will continue the broadcasts unless the North accepts responsibility for landmine explosions this month in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that wounded two South Korean soldiers. Pyongyang denies it planted the mines.
Both sides fired artillery at each other on Thursday.
Valte said that the Philippine Embassy in South Korea already has protocols in place in case Filipinos need to be evacuated.
"We had plans in place. I think this was sometime back in 2011 pa, early on in President [Benigno] Aquino’s term, when there was also a similar exchange of fires between the two. And na-activate naman po natin agad iyong ating evacuation protocols for our OFWs," she said, adding the plans have been refined since then.
"So, it is just a matter of activating the protocol," she said.
Valte said that there is good coordination between the embassy and the Filipino community in South Korea.
"So our first advice to them would be to follow the information that is disseminated to you by the embassy and to strictly adhere to these reminders because these reminders are also for our safety," she also said.
She also said that the government does not see a need to issue a travel advisory for South Korea.
"We feel that it would be enough really to continue to issue the statements via media and, of course, our networks among and between the OFW groups in South Korea have already been alerted," she said.
The Philippinas, in a statement on Friday, urged "restraint on both sides and...the immediate de-escalation of tensions in order to maintain regional peace and stability.” — JDS, GMA News