MANILA, Philippines (April 5 2012) - The Philippines yesterday called for concerted international action to persuade Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to abandon its plan to launch a long-range ballistic missile between April 12 and 16, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.
President Aquino told the Retreat Session of the 20th ASEAN summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia that North Korea’s planned missile launch violates the UN Security Council resolutions and presents risks to all concerned.
“It (rocket launch) increases tensions, particularly in the period of uncertainty leading up to the launch – where no one is sure of the trajectory of the missile. In particular, debris from the launch may potentially land in our territory. This is a needless provocation not only in the Korean Peninsula, but in our entire region,” Aquino told the ASEAN leaders during the summit.
Aquino stressed the situation in the Korean Peninsula has far-reaching implications on regional stability, which is essential to the continuing progress of Asia-Pacific countries.
“Stability, peace and prosperity in our region require all of us to continue to engage with each other, and the larger international community in ways that build confidence,” Aquino stressed.
“The way forward is for the DPRK to abandon the launch and return to actions that promote confidence-building among its neighbors. We hope for the early resumption of the Six-Party Talks and for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to eventually undertake complete, irreversible and verifiable denuclearization,” he added.
The Philippines proposed on Monday before the ASEAN to dissuade North Korea from proceeding with its satellite launch this month and suspend its ballistic missile program and activities.
Aquino also expressed the Philippines’ commitment to achieve a nuclear-free Asian region.
Manila will be hosting next year the ASEAN Regional Forum on Inter-Sessional Meeting to allow a nuclear-free region and efforts to stop nuclear proliferation to reach disarmament.
“We can further protect our peoples by working together toward that concrete plan of action with the aim of sustaining cooperation on non-proliferation and disarmament,” he said.
“Toward this end, the Philippines will host the inter-sessional meeting on disarmament in Manila next year as co-chair of the ASEAN Regional Forum on Inter-Sessional Meeting on non-proliferation and disarmament,” Aquino said.
Aquino noted one of Asia’s regional concerns is the nuclear ambition of North Korea.
North Korea said it would launch a “working” satellite to mark the centenary of founder Kim Il-Sung’s birth this month.
North Korea will mark the 100th birth anniversary of its revolutionary founder and “eternal president,” Kim Il-Sung, on April 15. North Korean propaganda touted 2012 as the year the country will emerge as a “powerful and prosperous” nuclear state.
Aquino told Manila-based reporters during the ASEAN summit in Cambodia that the Philippine government, through the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), has been discussing the issue of North Korea’s planned rocket launch between April 12 to 16.
“We have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” Aquino said.
He noted that while the Philippine’s eastern seaboard may be affected by the missile’s trajectory, it would only be upon the actual launch that experts can analyze where the debris will possibly fall.
On the other hand, NDRRMC executive director Benito Ramos said the military, police and local governments would enforce the “no-sail zone” on those days.
“If the fishermen insist (on sailing at sea), their boats would be towed. Those who do not comply will be apprehended,” Ramos said.
He said the stubborn fishermen might be brought to barangay halls to ensure their safety.
“The barangay captains should have informed the fishermen about the (North Korean) rocket launch. We are doing this for their safety,” Ramos said.
The NDRRMC will coordinate with the local governments of Cagayan, Isabela, Aurora, Quezon, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur and Catanduanes to enforce the policy.
Getting out of harm’s way
The Philippine government will implement a “no-fly zone” over areas along the likely path of North Korea’s rocket. The no-fly zone would take effect on April 12 to 16 from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m.
About 100 international flights to and from Japan and South Korea would be affected by the no-fly zone declaration.
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) issued a Notice-to-Airmen (Notam) on Tuesday citing the possibility of diverting all air traffic in the area.
The affected airways are normally used by Korean Air, Japan Airlines, Singapore Airlines, All Nippon, Garuda Indonesia and Philippine Airlines.
The areas bounded by Airways A590 (Gurag-Jomalig), A562 (Bisig-Jomalig), M501 (Limle-Bedip), R587 (Skate-Cabanatuan) are declared closed to aircraft operations on the expected path of the North Korean rocket launch, the Notam said.
The Notam was issued to clarify earlier reports that the Philippines will be a no-fly zone, according to CAAP director general Ramon Gutierrez.
The Notam advised pilots to use MEVIN B462 Airway as their alternate route or point of entry during the specified time of closure. MEVIN B462, like the areas that are closed to operations, are coded airway familiar to pilots and clearly delineated in aeronautical maps, normally carried aboard by airplanes, the CAAP said.
The North Korean rocket is expected to fly 190 nautical miles northeast of Northern Luzon in Sta. Ana, Cagayan and 150 nautical miles east of Polilio Island in Quezon.
Ramos urged local governments to provide food to fishermen who would be affected by the directive.
“The affected fishermen may insist on fishing because this is their main food source. The local government units should support the fishermen from April 12 to 16,” he said.
The Social Welfare department has prepared food packs in case local officials would need them, Ramos added.
“They (authorities) should first appeal to the fishermen before resorting to apprehensions. They should respect the fishermen’s human rights,” Ramos added.
Ramos said the national radiological emergency preparedness and response plan would not be implemented since the rocket has no reported radioactive material in its payload.
The Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI), however, advised residents in Ilocos, Cagayan, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Metro Manila and Bicol to stay indoors from April 12 to 16.
“The Philippine Nuclear Research Radiological Institute submits the ‘Stay Indoors’ policy for residents of Regions 1, 2, 3 4A, 4B, NCR (National Capital Region) and 5 during the 12-16 April 2012 period particularly between 6 a.m. to 12 noon,” it said.
“PNRI will continue to monitor and issue periodic advisories and precautionary measures to the NDRRMC and the general public, in the event of a suspected radiation report,” it added.