From Malaya (May 30): New peacekeeping skills need to be learned, says Gazmin
DEFENSE Secretary Voltaire Gazmin yesterday said Filipino troops need to learn new skills to deal with “emerging trends” in international peacekeeping missions following the recent kidnapping of 25 Filipino peacekeepers in the Golan Heights.
During the celebration of the International Day of UN peacekeepers in Camp Aguinaldo, Gazmin said yesterday also marked the 50th year of the country’s deployment of troops for UN peacekeeping.
“Peacekeeping operations have evolved since our first deployment 50 years ago. Peacekeepers are now called upon not only to maintain peace and security,” said Gazmin.
He said international peacekeepers are also tasked to protect civilians, assist in the disarmament and reintegration of former combatants, support the organization of elections, protect and promote human rights, and assist in restoring the rule of law.
The Philippines has peacekeepers in Golan Heights, Haiti and Liberia. In March and May, a total of 25 Filipino peacekeepers in Golan Heights were abducted by Syrian rebels but were released.
Gazmin said the defense and military establishments are exploring cooperative activities with foreign partners to improve the capabilities of Filipino peacekeepers.
“We are cognizant of the need to balance our international commitments while ensuring the safety of our peacekeepers, which is of paramount importance,” he said.
He said the DND is cooperating with other agencies “to come up with ways to address such challenges,” including the “continuous monitoring of the security situation in mission areas.”
Gazmin said the measures also include the procurement of protective equipment and “conveying to the UN, through diplomatic channels, the concerns of the Philippines and our call on all parties to respect the immunity accorded to UN peacekeepers.”
He said the government is reviewing its deployment of peacekeepers.
During yesterday’s ceremony, Gazmin awarded plaques to several officers and men previously deployed for peacekeeping missions. The awardees include Brig. Gen. Daniel Lucero, the current commander of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division and previous head of the country’s peacekeeping contingent in Haiti.