Press Release
March 7, 2013


Senator Chiz Escudero supported the call of the United Nations Security Council for the "unconditional and immediate" release of UN peacekeepers, 21 of them Filipinos, who are being held as captives by rebel forces in the Golan Heights ceasefire zone near the Syrian-Israeli border.

Escudero, who had supported Filipino service men's participation in UN peacekeeping operations, said the Syrian rebels who abducted the peacekeepers do not have any reason not to release their captives since they were part of the UN Disengagement Force (UNDOF) tasked to monitor a ceasefire agreement between Syria and Israel since 1974.

"The peacekeepers are not involved in the internal conflict between rebels and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad," Escudero said.

The rebels are demanding the forces of Assad to pull back from a Golan village as condition for the release of the peacekeepers.

Latest data from the United Nations showed the Philippines has 730 policemen and soldiers deployed as peacekeepers in different parts of the globe.

Escudero said that the Syrian incident should not deter the country from its commitment with the UN to contribute in its peacekeeping efforts since both the global community and the Philippines derive benefits from such international cooperation.

"The active pursuit of our international commitments will at the same time accrue benefits for the country and our soldiers and police," Escudero said.

Escudero said that the participation of the Philippines should even be upgraded by the government to the sending of military equipment since these are paid for by the United Nations.

"Optimal force and equipment deployment is ideal for the country's participation in peacekeeping operations. The country will stand to earn more if it deploys equipment-heavy units instead of infantry battalions to allow it to receive more UN reimbursements," he said.

As a UN founding member, the Philippines has been contributing to maintaining international peace and security as called for in the UN Charter since the Korean war in 1950.

The UN does not have its own army and military personnel or provide for its logistical and technical requirements which member states voluntarily provide.

The UN, in turn, reimburse or provide loans for the purchase of equipment, Escudero said.

Such an arrangement could benefit both UN members and the Philippines.

"The country has its own constraints on the home front, primarily the lack of equipment for our own internal forces," he said.

News Latest News Feed