Sending Philippine soldiers to Lebanon ‘suicidal’

July 31, 2006 at 3:21 pm Leave a comment

Speaker Jose de Venecia today said that the government should send a peacekeeping contingent to Lebanon. We in AKBAYAN believe that with the problems facing our peacekeeping operations, such a move will be suicidal. Our troops abroad are underpaid and ill-equipped, so how are they going to survive the worsening situation in Lebanon?

We also filed House Resolution No. 1313 to investigate the anomaly involving our peacekeeping operations with the United Nations. Download a copy of the resolution here.

Read below our press release on the issue:

Sending troops to Lebanon is ‘suicidal’

AKBAYAN Rep. Risa Hontiveros today called the proposal of Speaker Jose de Venecia to send Filipino peacekeeping soldiers to Lebanon a suicide mission. “We have been mistreating our soldiers by fielding them as underpaid and ill-equipped peacekeepers in conflict-prone areas. We in AKBAYAN fear that our troops will only be exposed to grave danger if we send them to Lebanon,” Rep. Hontiveros said.

The solon filed today a resolution to investigate the AFP’s policies in joining UN peacekeeping missions and the alleged misuse of the United Nations Support Fund for peacekeeping. Through a Memorandum of Understanding, the AFP gets reimbursement from the UN for the expenses that it has incurred for fielding Filipino soldiers in UN missions abroad. The reimbursements cover the US$1, 028 uniform allowance for per peacekeeper (the Troop Cost Allowance, or TCA), the soldiers’ subsistence, and the military equipments that are needed to support the troop during the entire mission (the Contingent-Owned Equipments, or COE).

Citing a report by Newsbreak magazine, the solon said that since 1999, when the country started to deploy troops again for UN peacekeeping missions, the AFP was able to save millions of dollars by recycling old equipments and by using vehicles and armaments donated by the country’s military allies like the US. “How can they protect themselves if they can’t even have new helmets or better vehicles?” asked Rep. Hontiveros.

The report also said that the AFP was able to scrimp funds from the UN money to construct an international peacekeeping center in Capas, Tarlac, which was later abandoned for its substandard materials.

“Furthermore, the decision to cut by 40% the allowance of Filipino soldiers in UN missions abroad means that the AFP is saving P8 million monthly from the TCA reimbursements,” Rep. Hontiveros said. “No one knows where the money goes. We believe that since the UN money is treated as a discretionary fund, then it is very prone to be used for corrupt practices such as conversion.”

Rep. Hontiveros urges Congress to investigate the policy of AFP on peacekeeping to prevent the misuse of the funds from UN. The government should focus its attention on the repatriation of Filipino migrant workers in southern Lebanon and northern Israel, the solon from AKBAYAN added.

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Entry filed under: AKBAYAN in Congress, Press Releases, Security Sector Reforms.

Another CON ASS Resolution AKBAYAN still wants Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo impeached

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AKBAYAN Party

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