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Lorenzana says spillover of Ukraine-Russia conflict to Philippines is remote

Lorenzana says spillover of Ukraine-Russia conflict to Philippines is remote
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana shares his remarks during a meeting with key government officials presided over by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte at the Malacañan Palace on May 2, 2022. (Presidential Photo / Alfred Frias)

MANILA, Philippines — The possibility of the Ukraine-Russia conflict spilling over to the Philippines is remote despite the country’s military agreements with the US, the defense department said Thursday.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the Philippines is far from the site of the clashes, which were triggered by Russia’s invasion.

“I discussed that with the president, especially during the command conference. He asked, ‘Are we in danger of being dragged into that?’ Because he said he allowed the US to use Clark in case it goes to war,” Lorenzana said in Filipino during an interview with state-run People’s Television.

“I told him, ‘Mr. President, that’s probably far from happening because first, we are far (from the site of the conflict). If America needs a place for its equipment and personnel before getting involved in Ukraine, there are nearby countries for that,’ So I said we may not be dragged into it,” he added.

Lorenzana noted that South Korea, Turkey and other countries with North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces are nearer Ukraine compared to the Philippines.

“If ever the president offers Clark to them (US), it’s very unlikely that they would position several troops and equipment here,” the defense chief added.

In his recent speeches, Duterte warned that there would be “serious trouble” if the conflict in Ukraine escalates into a nuclear war. He claimed that China, an ally of Russia, would not sit idly and may seize Taiwan if it decides to be involved in the war. The president said the Philippines would be affected by such a development because there are American troops based in the country.

Duterte echoed the concern during the inauguration of the New Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital in Manila last Wednesday.

“Even this ruckus in Ukraine, let’s pray that it will not degenerate into something like a nuclear warfare. We will be finished. We will be finished because China would not stand idly and allow Russia. You know why? When I was in China, (Chinese President) Xi Jinping was frank with me and said we will not allow our ally, most important ally, Russia,” the president said.

“There were already bickerings and rumblings and everything… But if it goes nuclear, we would be hit. Why? The Americans are here. They never left Clark and Subic, he added, referring to the sites of former US bases.

Duterte said Filipinos would never know if the Americans based in the country brought with them nuclear armaments.

“Keep that in mind because it’s really dangerous. He (Russian President Vladimir Putin) will just push the button and that’s it. We will face difficulties. We will have a dry season in our life,” he added.

— Alexis Romero

Credit belongs to : www.philstar.com

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