Re-electionist Senator Leila M. de Lima bewailed what she deemed as Mr. Duterte’s irresponsible and premature statement on the Philippines’ supposed role should the Russia-Ukraine War spill over to Asia.
De Lima, a known human rights and social justice champion here and abroad, said that such matter is not being discussed by the leaders of Europe and the US as of present time because it engenders an escalation in the language of the conflict.
“The Philippine government should not be issuing statements that are counter-intuitive to conflict resolution and which almost amount to sabre-rattling. The call of NATO and the US is for peace and the withdrawal of Russian forces,” she said in her Dispatch from Crame No. 1233 released yesterday (March 12).
“For the Philippines to be talking about its role in the event of the expansion of the conflict, while NATO is even steadfast in its own outright refusal to put NATO boots on Ukrainian soil, only reflects Duterte’s “utak pulbura” world-view,” she added.
Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez reportedly said Manila is ready to assist Washington should the war between Russia and Ukraine reach Asia.
Romualdez said the President even offered the country’s facilities for use by the country’s long-time military ally.
“He says if they are asking for the support of the Philippines, he was very clear that push comes to shove the Philippines would be ready to support especially if this Ukrainian crisis spills over to Asian region,” Romualdez said.
In an earlier statement posted on Twitter, De Lima maintained that “any talk of the Ukraine-Russia conflict spilling over to our region is premature.”
“In any case, regardless of the war in Ukraine, we have commitments under the PH-US MDT and VFA that we are expected to fulfill, both in peacetime and during a conflict,” she said.
“In an increasingly hostile geopolitical climate, alliances matter against aggressors and oppressors,” she added.
When Duterte said the Philippines is ready to allow its facilities to be used by the US, De Lima pointed out that he is putting the US under the spotlight if indeed the US is also projecting a worldwide conflict arising from the Ukraine war.
“Of course the US is not expected to respond to Duterte’s invitation, premature and irresponsible as it is in light of the critical nature of the US’s relations with Russia as of present,” De Lima said.
The lady Senator from Bicol said it is difficult to discuss whatever the future role of the Philippines is in the event the conflict in Ukraine spills over to Asia without sounding belligerent.
“Southeast Asia as of now is still very remote from the conflict, other than feeling the war’s economic repercussions,” she said.
“To talk about Philippine involvement means that the conflict has already expanded to other parts of NATO Europe and the US, for the Philippines to be taking into consideration its defense arrangements with the US. This also means that the conflict has approached a global scale, heading towards a third world war,” she added.
Thousands of people are believed to have been killed or wounded and more than 2 million refugees have fled from Ukraine since Feb. 24 due to Russia invasion. (30)