MANILA, Philippines - The military would send for the first time an all-Navy contingent to the United Nations peacekeeping force in Haiti.
Armed Forces public affairs chief Col. Arnulfo Burgos Jr. said the 155-strong contingent would leave on Sept. 20 and stay in Haiti for six months.
A sendoff ceremony was held yesterday at Camp O’Donnell in Tarlac in honor of the team, the country’s 14th contingent to Haiti.
Marine Col. George Fernandez would head the peacekeeping team, which consists of 12 officers and 143 enlisted personnel.
The contingent members came from the different units of the Navy and were the first team to train at Camp O’Donnell.
Burgos said this is the second time that the military is sending a peacekeeping team from only one major service.
The first time was in May when the Armed Forces sent a 327-man all-Army contingent to Liberia. The members were troops of the 76th Infantry Battalion led by Col. Cornelio Valencia.
The peacekeeping unit would conduct humanitarian operations that would benefit those affected by the conflict.
“The deployment of contingents to other countries is our contribution to the United Nations as it continues to perform its role in the advocacy of international peace and solidarity,” Burgos said.
The peacekeepers would also support the Haitian government in promoting the rule of law and human rights and protecting the vulnerable sectors.
“I will successfully accomplish this noble mission by employing our most important assets who are specialized, disciplined, competent and highly trained personnel to perform administrative and logistics services,” Fernandez said in a statement.
Armed Forces chief Gen. Eduardo Oban Jr. said the military would continue to support UN’s peacekeeping efforts even if the Philippines has its own security concerns.
“We have gained a lot on peace keeping which is not apart from the efforts that the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) is doing to uphold peace and security within our country,” Oban said.
“Even though we have our own concerns of internal security, our country remains steadfastly supportive of the commitment for world peace, and continues to join other democratic countries in this venture,” he added.
The Philippines is a signatory of the UN charter and has been sending peacekeeping teams to Haiti since 2004. It is also sending peacekeepers to Liberia and the Golan Heights.