PH should not be neutral on Russia-Ukraine conflict—presidential bets

Screengrabbed from CNN Philippines’ Presidential Debate

SIX PRESIDENTIAL candidates expressed their disagreement with the neutral stance of the Department of National Defense on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In one of the  CNN Philippines’ presidential debate segments, former defense chief Norberto Gonzales, labor leader Leody de Guzman, Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, Jose Montemayor Jr., Sen. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao, and Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo said they would not remain neutral on the current Russia-Ukraine conflict.

In an interview dated Feb. 24, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the Philippines is not in the position to comment or condemn what is happening in Ukraine as the Philippines is nowhere near it.

“Wala naman tayong pakialam sa Europe kung ano ang ginagawa nila doon, hindi naman tayo katabi ng Ukraine… Neutral muna tayo ngayon,” Lorenzana said.

However, Lacson said that the Philippines, as a signatory of the United Nations (UN) Charter, has the right to condemn Russia for its actions.

“While we renounce war as an instrument of national or foreign policy, nasa Konstitusyon natin ‘yan [na] mayroon naman tayong pakialam dahil signatory tayo sa UN Charter,” he said.

“Hindi naman masama kung makisama tayo sa peace-loving nations para maging bahagi ‘yung boses natin ng pagkondena kasi aggressive talaga ‘yan eh—invasion,” Lacson added.

Chapter I Article I of the UN Charter states “To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measure for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means.”

Of the nine candidates present during the CNN Philippines’ presidential debate, three candidates namely former presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella, Faisal Mangondato, and Manila City Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso shared their agreement with Lorenzana.

Domagoso said that he would remain neutral for now as the country must first ensure the safety of Filipino citizens who are currently in Ukraine.

Domagoso added that the country must focus first on solving the problems brought by the pandemic. 

“I think, before going to other things… bigyan muna natin ng panahon kung paano natin itatawid ‘yung mga kababayan natin sa pandemyang ito,” Domagoso said.

He said that although he recognizes and respects treaties and agreements, the safety of Filipinos must be prioritized. F

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