No-sail zone mulled in coastal areas amid regional tensions

THE Department of National Defense has alerted the country’s coastal communities to be prepared against missile debris, in the event North Korea’s missile launch against the United States may fall on the Philippines.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said while the DND was treating the Pyongyang threat as a civil defense and not a military issue, he might issue a “no-sail zone” advisories to the coastal areas and alert advisories to local government agencies.

At the same time, Lorenzana called on all countries involved to exercise sobriety and refrain from actions that might escalate tensions, not only in the Korean Peninsula, but the rest of the Asia-Pacific region.

Director Arsenio Andolong, Defense Public Affairs Service head, said countries like the United States and North Korea should temper their statements which otherwise would complicate the tense situation in the Korean peninsula following threats by the reclusive state to fire medium-range missiles to the US territory Guam.

Andolong’s call came after Chinese leader Xi Jinping and New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English urged US President Donald Trump to avoid giving inflammatory statement that could inflame the situation in the Korean peninsula.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana

“Be that as it may, we call on all countries involved to exercise sobriety and refrain from actions that may escalate tensions not only in the Korean peninsula, but the rest of the Asia-Pacific region as well,” Andolong said.

The Philippines has a contingency plan in place for 42,800 Filipinos residing and working in Guam.

Foreign Affairs spokesman Robespierre Bolivar assured all Filipinos in Guam that the country’s consulate general was prepared and had updated its contingency plan in case North Korea launched nuclear-capable missiles into Guam.

“Our Consulate General has Contingency Plans which are regularly updated,” Bolivar said, adding these would enable the Consulate General to respond to emergencies in their area of jurisdiction, including coordination with the host country and the Filipino community.

In Guam, the Philippine Consul General Marciano de Borja said Filipinos residing and working there saw no reason to evacuate despite the missile threat from North Korea.

In an interview on private television GMA7’s QRT, De BorJa said Filipinos who have investments there with whom he was able to talk were not concerned about North Korea’s threat.

On Friday, Trump issued an incendiary statement against North Korean leader Kim Jung-On, who had threatened to launch missiles into Guam, warning the latter of bringing “fire and fury” in case North Korea eventually fired ballistic missiles in US territory.

While the threat of a North Korean missile launch was not directed at the Philippines, the Defense Department was closely monitoring the situation in the region.