Palace calls for ‘self-restraint’ amid North Korea’s missile launch threat

By Rosette Adel

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In this July 28, 2017, file photo distributed by the North Korean government on Saturday, July 29, 2017, shows what was said to be the launch of a Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile at an undisclosed location in North Korea. North Korea has been testing missiles at an unprecedented pace and threatening to launch some of those toward Guam. Pyongyang may be looking to eventually use the existence of its nuclear weapons to negotiate a peace treaty with the United States to officially end the 1950-53 Korean War and remove U.S. troops from the South. Until, and unless, that happens, Seoul probably will have little luck building bridges. Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP, File

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Sunday urged parties to exercise self-restraint anew following North Korea’s threat to launch missiles near Guam.

“The Philippines reiterates its call for continued exercise of self-restraint in order to de-escalate the tension and to refrain from actions that may aggravate the situation on the Korean peninsula,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement.

North Korea last Thursday announced a detailed plan to launch a salvo of ballistic missiles toward Guam, a major military hub and home to US bombers, a move that if carried out would be its most provocative missile launch to date.

North Korea’s announcement warned that it is preparing a plan to fire four of its Hwasong-12 missiles over Japan and into waters around the tiny island, which hosts 7,000 US military personnel on two main bases and has a population of 160,000.

Abella then assured the public that the government is coordinating with the Filipino communities in the Republic of Korea and in Guam for its contingency plans.

“The Philippine Embassy in Seoul and the Consulate General in Agana have been monitoring the situation closely and have been working closely with the Filipino communities in ROK and Guam, respectively, to ensure preparedness for any eventuality,” Abella said.

Philippine envoy to Guam also coordinating with Filipino community

On Thursday, Philippine Consul General in Guam Marciano de Borja also said that the consulate is closely monitoring the Filipino community in the island. He added that it is also coordinating with the Philippine and Guam governments to avoid causing panic in its announcements.

“We're very much in touch with the office of government, and office of civil defense, in order to synchronize our actions with them,” De Borja said in a radio interview with CNN last Friday.

“We don't like to issue any official statement that is not synchronized with Guam government,” he added.

De Borja said the governor of Guam’s official announcement that there is no imminent threat to the island and there is no need to heighten the alert level helped calm the Filipino community.

The Philippine consulate general said although there was a panic, for now it is “business as usual” to them.

The Department of Foreign Affairs also said there are contingency plans in Guam ready as response to emergencies in their area of jurisdiction.

De Borja said the government of Guam is ready to thwart any attack. He added that the Philippines contingency measures include evacuation plans.

De Borja said that as of 2016, there are 42,835 Filipinos in Guam, where most of them are dual citizens.

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