Cayetano warns war in Korea will affect Filipinos around the world; says PHL can be ‘peacemaker’

tambi new

red line

‘No one really wins from war.’ Photos by Elton Lugay

‘No one really wins from war.’ Photos by Elton Lugay

By Cristina DC Pastor

Visiting Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano warned of the consequences of war breaking out in the Korean peninsula, saying it will affect the lives of the 10 million Filipinos working outside the country.

“The reality is that the Korean peninsula situation is putting everybody at risk. With 10 million Filipinos abroad, even if South Korea is not the target, you name the country, there’s a Filipino there,” he said at a September 20 press conference with the FilAm media in New York held at the Philippine Consulate.

In a speech at the UN General Assembly, U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea if Pyongyang provokes Washington. He also mocked North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by calling him “Rocket man” in apparent reference to the country’s series of weapons tests over the years.

North Korea has test-fired a series of missiles including two suspected ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missile) capable of carrying nuclear weapons. It had threatened to fire into the Pacific Ocean near the island of Guam, but has hesitated because such an attack would invite a retaliation from the U.S. Guam is a U.S. territory. Kim matched Trump’s rhetoric by calling the American president “deranged.”

Cayetano told reporters it will not matter where the Filipinos are working or how far they are from Korea. The impact of a war will be felt around the world, and the Philippine government will have to find a way to keep them safe from the turmoil.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano prepares to sit down for a Q-A with FilAm media.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano prepares to sit down for a Q-A with FilAm media.

At a recent meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum, he shared how the North Korean minister gave assurances to the ASEAN member countries that both sides continue to have “friendly relations.”

“They were saying hindi kayo ang kaaway namin, and we were telling them kung hindi kami kaaway kailangan may opening na mag-usap. If you keep testing (weapons), it affects the whole region,” said Cayetano.

He thought Trump’s debut speech at the UNGA was a “balancing act.”

“Sometimes you have to make a strong stand for them to know that you’re serious. But sometimes you have to give an opening so that you can talk. President Trump’s speech was both,” he said. “The U.S. is not only capable but willing to use force if needed so. But he also gave the opening to say that the UN is precisely there to prevent this from happening.”

He also said that any instability in the region – whether in the Korean peninsula or across the South China Sea — is likely to affect tourism, trade, and economic growth in the Philippines.

Because Filipinos are everywhere, the secretary said the Philippines can play the role of “peacemaker.” He recounted how Trump had requested Duterte’s help convincing Chinese President Xi Jinping to back off Beijing’s support of North Korea. Duterte, according to Cayetano, had even proposed traveling to Pyongyang to broker peace. Unfortunately, the war in Marawi broke out, and the Philippine president “got entangled with that.”

“As Filipinos and responsible citizens of the world community, we’re always prepared to be pacemakers,” said Cayetano. “We’re hoping we can play a role.”

© 2017 The FilAm

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: