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Dumaguete City, PhilippinesTuesday, April 2, 2013
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Evacuation in place for
foreigners in Korea

MANILA – Contingency plans are in place in the event the recurring tensions on the Korean Peninsula escalate further in light of North Korea's recent declaration of a "state of war" with South Korea, Malacañang said yesterday.

Quoting the Department of Foreign Affairs, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said Filipino community leaders in South Korea have already been contacted and put on Alert Level 1 for heightened awareness of the situation.

“If you remember, when the tensions increased—I think sometime in early 2011—we had the opportunity to give the contingency plan a second look so that the preparations now are benefiting from that look in 2011,” Valte told reporters in a press briefing.

Malacañang expressed readiness to evacuate the estimated 40,000 Filipinos living and working in South Korea to the extent of tapping commercial vessels if and when the need arises.

“We were able to do it in several other countries. Hopefully, we will also be able to do it (again) but we hope that it will not be necessary. And we are one with everybody in hoping that the tensions decrease in that particular area,” she said.

Valte, however, added that she's unaware whether additional funds and personnel will be provided for the Philippine Embassy in Seoul since they were told that "life seems to be normal" still in that particular area.

“I did not hear any discussions as to augmented funding and as to augmented manpower of our post there in South Korea. But, if and when necessary, we will be able to provide what is needed,” she said.

Malacañang is leaving the finer details of the government's contingency plans to the DFA but the important thing, Valte said, is that "we consider all options."

“I do know that the plan involves moving, alerting our people at a certain time, reminding them of the particular convergence points that have been identified, and then eventually moving to the point where they will be taken out of that particular area.

“We consider all options. One of the options will be to employ commercial vessels. You've seen that in the case of our evacuations in Libya, also in Syria, and also earlier in Lebanon,” Valte explained.*PNA


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