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The Philippines

Philippines uncertain about siding with the US in case of fighting against North Korea

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 November, 2017, 2:39am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 November, 2017, 11:25am

The Philippine government said on Tuesday it is uncertain which side to take in case of a military clash between North Korea and the United States and its allies, despite a mutual defence agreement between Manila and Washington.

Philippine presidential spokesman Harry Roque expressed this uncertainty in the government’s policy direction amid the continued heightened tensions between Pyongyang and Washington.

“As of now, we’re not prepared to say which side we will be on other than we want the side of, we want the (United Nations) charter followed, we want all parties to refrain from the use of force, we want all parties to utilise peaceful means in resolving this dispute,” Roque said in a forum in Manila.

His pronouncement offers a crucial insight into the Philippines’ policy in the event of an attack from Pyongyang on territories of its treaty ally, the United States.

The Mutual Defence Treaty between the Philippines and the United States, which was signed on August 30, 1951, says each would defend the other in case of an attack by an external force.

North Korea in July fired two intercontinental ballistic missiles potentially capable of reaching the mainland United States and in August threatened to send ballistic missiles near the US Pacific territory of Guam.

It fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan on September 15 in its longest-ever flight, which would have been enough to reach Guam.

Subsequently, the United States and Japan said that all options are on the table to deal with North Korea’s continued threats and development of its nuclear arsenal.

In April, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said nobody could project what could happen if war breaks out on the Korean Peninsula.

“One miscalculation of a missile, whether or not a nuclear warhead or an ordinary bomb, one explosion there that would hit somebody would cause a catastrophe,” he said in a speech.

The Philippines, both as a sovereign state and as this year’s chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), has called for restraint and continued negotiations between parties for the peaceful settlement of the crisis on the Korean Peninsula.