Pimentel calls for speedy recall of PHL peacekeepers from Golan Heights

Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III on Saturday called on the government to bring home Filipino troops assigned as peacekeeprs in the Golan Heights and said the soldiers should be given "appropriate awards", including cash incentives and promotions.

He also praised them for "courageously defying calls" for them to surrender during a standoff with Syrian rebels.

The senator also urged the government to review its peacekeeping mission with the UN, in the interest of keeping Filipino troops safe from the ongoing civil war in Syria.

“While we are under obligation to respect our commitments to the UN, it is also our duty to ensure that risks to the lives of our troops which volunteer for UN peace-keeping missions are kept to the minimum,”  Pimentel said in a statement.

The Filipino peacekeepers were reportedly ordered to surrender their weapons to Syrian rebels who trapped them in their posts after capturing 43 Fijian peacekeepers.

However, Col. Ezra James Enriquez, the third ranking officer in the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), defied orders and instructed troops to stand their ground.

The Filipino soldiers eventually escaping without casualties.

While UNDOF ranking officer Lt. Gen. Iqbal Singh Singha called it an "act of cowardice", the Armed Forces of the Philippines is considering giving the peacekeepers a hero's welcome for what they described as the "greatest escape" from Syrian rebels. Rie Takumi/JDS, GMA News


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