Philippines no stand yet on Syria bombing, safety of OFWs priority
The Philippines has no position yet on the United States-led air strikes on Syria as its priority is the safety of the Filipinos there, an official said on Monday.
In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Duterte administration is trying to balance its stance on the matter.
"You know, we are a member of the United Nations. We are bound by the UN Charter. Chapter 7 says that the use of force must be by way of self-defense or when authorized by the UN Security Council. But there is also a development in international (law), that what is called as responsibility to protect," said Roque, an international law expert.
"So our government is balancing its opinion, but right now, it is giving top importance on the safety of our citizens in Syria," he said.
He said about 1,000 Filipinos are in Syria.
"So we are focused first on their safety and we will later make a policy statement when it comes to the issue of Syria bombing," Roque said.
US, along with the United Kingdom and France, led the air strikes in Syria due to its alleged use of chemical weapons.
Russia and China, two countries which President Rodrigo Duterte considers as the Philippines closest allies, have opposed the Western air strikes on Syria.
Asked if the Philippines would allow Filipino troops in the attack against Syria should the US sought help, Roque said he has to wait for President Rodrigo Duterte's stance.
Duterte earlier declared that he would not allow the Filipino troops to participate in any US-led war. Celerina Monte/DMS