STA.CRUZ, Laguna, Apr 5 (Mabuhay) — President Benigno S. Aquino III made an assurance on Friday that the government has an intact emergency response plan in case war breaks out in the Korean Peninsula as tension continues to rise in the region.
In an interview with the media during an event here, the President said he’s confident that Filipino community organizations in South Korea are working hand-in-hand with the Philippine Embassy in that country to organize Filipinos if there is a need for an evacuation.
“Maganda ang ugnayan ng ating embahada at ng mga Filipino community groups doon. Iba-ibang mga grupo ang naghanda ng mga evacuation plans kung sakaling kakailanganin,” the President said.
At the same time, the President said the Philippine government is also talking with other countries for temporary sheltering arrangements in case of any emergency evacuation.
The President said Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario is flying to South Korea tomorrow to check on the government’s preparations for a possible emergency situation.
The Department of Foreign Affairs as well as the intelligence services was also instructed to assess whether or not the threat is real and how bad it is, the President said.
But the President added that he hasn’t received any information about any eminent threat in South Korea that will require evacuation of Filipinos.
The President recalled that during the shelling of a South Korean island two years ago, there were about 50,000 Filipinos living or working in South Korea. About 15,000 stay closest to the demilitarized zone than Seoul, making them a top priority for the government in case of an emergency.
The government said there are nine Filipinos working in North Korea as United Nations staff.
Under the government’s contingency plan, Filipinos will be brought to the southern portion of the country, in Busan, and then they will be ferried or airlifted from there, the President said.
The government also has better capability now than before in evacuating people because it has three operational C-130 cargo planes. It also has a Navy ship that could ferry people from South Korea.
One C-130 can carry about 100 people per flight for a four-hour flight, the President explained. A Philippine Navy ship can carry a thousand but travel time could take around ten days.
Tension has been high in the Korea Peninsula amid threats of North Korea to launch nuclear attacks against the US and its ally, South Korea. On Thursday, the US announced it is deploying an anti-missile defense system in Guam to shield its territory against a possible North Korean missile attack. (MNS)