No travel advisory to Korea yet-A A +A
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
MANILA -- The government did not find it necessary to issue a travel advisory against South Korea yet vowed Wednesday to ensure the safety of the Filipino workers in the area.
"We are closely monitoring and I have tasked the relevant agencies to review their contingency plans concerning the safety of our citizens there," said President Benigno Aquino III.
The President met with members of the Cabinet security cluster at the refurbished Presidential Situation Room on Wednesday to discuss the ongoing skirmishes in the Korean Peninsula.
North Korea last Tuesday fired dozens of artillery shells at the Yellow Sea island of Yeonpyeong in South Korea, killing two soldiers and setting dozens of houses ablaze.
The attack is seen as one of the heaviest since the Korean War ended in 1953.
Despite the situation, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the Philippine Embassy in Seoul is "closely monitoring" the developments in South Korea following the attack.
"We don't find it necessary to issue a travel advisory in the hope that the situation in Korea will only be temporary," said DFA spokesman Eduardo Malaya.
As of now, the DFA is still leaving the decision to the travelers on whether to push through with their travel to the Korean peninsula.
"We trust those who intend to travel, given the news the incident has generated, that they can form a well-informed decision on their planned travel," Malaya noted.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, for his part, said the Palace is calling for an end to "provocative" actions of North Korea, while junking the idea of evacuating Filipinos in the area.
"There are no plans yet of evacuation but certainly, precautionary measures have been undertaken by the Philippine Embassy in Seoul," Lacierda told reporters Wednesday.
He, however, assured that if the situation would escalate, the government will revisit its decision.
The Palace official said the DFA has already advised Filipino nationals in Korea to keep abreast with the developments of the attacks.
DFA records show that there are some 60,000 Filipinos in South Korea, while there is no "sizeable" number of Filipinos in North Korea.
With this number, a lawmaker urged the DFA and the Department of Labor and Employment to prepare the repatriation of Filipino workers in Korea if tension escalates.
"The government should be ready to spend money and bring the Overseas Filipino Workers out from the country," said Zambales Representative Mitos Magsaysay.
The Philippine Airlines (PAL), meanwhile, said flights going to South Korea remain normal despite the reported military tension.
PAL will continue mounting regular flights to Seoul and Busan until advised by Philippine or South Korean authorities.
Updates on the conflict are also being fed to PAL management by its staff in Seoul who, in turn, gets information from the Philippine embassy in South Korea.
PAL currently flies Manila-Seoul twice a day, to Busan four times a week, and daily from Cebu to Seoul.
The situation in the Korean Peninsula also rattled the financial market Wednesday as the Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) shed points for the third straight day.
The PSEi dropped by 0.55 percent or 22.81 points to finish at 4,124.54. The broader all-share index suffered a 0.89 percent slump or 25.31 points to settle at 2,805.11.
All sub-indices posted negative results, led by the services sector that slipped by 0.94 percent or 14.42 points to 1,521.68. Industrial firms, on the other hand, ended flat, shedding 0.07 percent or 4.87 points to 6,871.45.
Trading volume totaled P5 billion, with 1.11 billion shares changing hands. This is in contrast to the P5.24-billion worth of 1.19 billion shares traded on Tuesday.
Decliners dumped advancers, 82 to 47, while 42 shares did not change.
Among the stocks that sustained losses were so-called blue-chips, such as Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., Cebu Air Inc., Banco de Oro Unibank Inc., Energy Development Corp., San Miguel Corp., DMCI Holdings Inc., First Gen Corp., and Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (Virgil Lopez/Katrina Alvarez/AMN/Sunnex)