Manila calls for collective efforts to combat terrorism

Philippine Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo talks to Arab News at her office in Manila on Tuesday. (AN photo)
Updated 18 September 2019

Manila calls for collective efforts to combat terrorism

  • Attacks on Saudi oil facilities a ‘wake-up call’ to the world, VP tells Arab News

MANILA: The Philippines on Tuesday called for collective international efforts to combat terrorism in the wake of strikes on Saudi oil facilities.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Vice President of the Philippines Maria Leonor Robredo said that the attacks were a “wake-up call” to the world and threatened not only her country’s economy but also Filipinos working in the Kingdom.

“I know for a fact that Saudi Arabia has been at the forefront of combating terrorist activities. Now that we have heard of the recent attacks last week in the Middle East, it is another wake-up call for all of us that the threat is still there,” she added.

Speaking at her office in Manila, Robredo said that such strikes would have a negative impact on the Philippines. “The attacks are not just expected to affect our economy, but also the future of Filipino workers who reside there (Saudi Arabia).”

On Tuesday, Reuters reported a drop in oil prices. Oil ended nearly 15 percent higher on Monday, with Brent logging its biggest jump in more than 30 years amid record trading volumes.

“My stance is that attacks will continue if we will not step up as a community of nations in really working together, doing collective efforts to combat terrorism,” said Robredo.

HIGHLIGHT

Following Saturday’s coordinated drone hits on key Saudi oil sites, the Philippine government convened an emergency meeting afternoon to discuss the situation.

Filipino Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. also expressed concerns about the possible impact of the terror strikes, particularly on oil prices and supplies to his country.

“This is serious. It will — not could — affect us deeply; to put it bluntly, an oil shortage or steep rise in oil price will rock the Philippine boat and tip it over,” Locsin said on Twitter.

Following Saturday’s coordinated drone hits on key Saudi oil sites at Khurais and Abqaiq in the Eastern Province, the Philippine government convened an emergency meeting on Sunday afternoon to discuss the situation.

Present during the meeting held at the Department of Energy (DoE) headquarters in the city of Taguig were officials of the Electric Power Industry Management Bureau, Industry Management Bureau, the National Electrification Administration (NEA), the National Power Corporation (NPC), the Philippine National Oil Co. (PNOC), and the PNOC-Exploration Committee.

“We are seeking to ensure that the energy family will be sufficiently prepared to face the potential impact of this unfortunate incident, if any, on the country,” Secretary of Energy Alfonso Cusi said in a statement.

“Rest assured that the DoE, together with the entire energy family, is closely monitoring the situation, and will keep the public properly informed of developments on the matter,” he added.


Fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh goes on despite US mediation

Updated 24 October 2020

Fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh goes on despite US mediation

  • Nagorno-Karabakh lies within Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a war there ended in 1994
  • After failed attempts by Russia to broker a truce, Pompeo hosted the Armenian and Azerbaijan foreign ministers for separate talks

STEPANAKERT, Nagorno-Karabakh: Rocket and artillery barrage hit residential areas in Nagorno-Karabakh on Saturday hours after the United States hosted top diplomats from Armenia and Azerbaijan for talks on settling their decades-long conflict over the region.
The heavy shelling forced residents of Stepanakert, the regional capital of Nagorno-Karabakh, into shelters, as emergency teams rushed to extinguish fires. Local officials said the city was struck with Azerbaijan’s Smerch long-range multiple rocket systems, a devastating Soviet-designed weapon intended to ravage wide areas with explosives and cluster munitions.
Nagorno-Karabakh authorities said other towns in the region were also targeted by Azerbaijani artillery fire. There was no immediate information about casualties.
Officials in Azerbaijan claimed that the town of Terter and areas in the Gubadli region came under Armenian shelling early Saturday, killing a teenager. They also said 13-year-old boy died Saturday of wounds from an earlier shelling of Ganja, Azerbaijan’s second-largest city.
Nagorno-Karabakh lies within Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a war there ended in 1994. The current fighting that started Sept. 27 marks the worst escalation in the conflict since the war’s end and has killed hundreds, perhaps even thousands, according to official reports.
After two failed attempts by Russia to broker a truce, the US waded onto the scene on Friday, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hosting the Armenian and Azerbaijan foreign ministers for separate talks.
“Both must implement a cease-fire and return to substantive negotiations,” Pompeo said in a tweet after the negotiations.
Those words were ignored on the ground.
“Just now a bomb exploded in my garden,” Georgiy, a resident of Stepanakert who only gave his first name amid the war jitters, said after the overnight attack. “If this is the so-called cease-fire, let the whole world see this cease-fire.”
Georgiy, who was born in Stepanakert, said he would stay home despite the fighting.
“This is my motherland, I’m not going to leave it,” he said. “All the people will stand until the last.”
According to Nagorno-Karabakh officials, 963 of their troops have been killed, and 37 civilians also have died. Azerbaijan hasn’t disclosed its military losses, but said that over 60 civilians were killed and about 300 were wounded in the four weeks of fighting.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that according to Moscow’s information, the death toll from the fighting was significantly higher than officially reported by the warring parties, nearing 5,000.
Russia, the United States and France have co-chaired the so-called Minsk Group set up by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to mediate in the conflict, but they haven’t scored any progress after nearly three decades.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has said that to end hostilities Armenian forces must withdraw from Nagorno-Karabakh. He has insisted that Azerbaijan has the right to reclaim its territory by force since international mediators have failed.
Turkey has thrown its weight behind Azerbaijan, vowing to support its ally “on the battlefield or the negotiating table.” It has trained Azerbaijani military and provided it with strike drones and long-range rocket systems that gave Azerbaijan a strong military edge on the battlefield.
Armenian officials say Turkey is directly involved in the conflict and is sending Syrian mercenaries in to fight on Azerbaijan’s side.
Turkey has denied deploying combatants to the region, but a Syrian war monitor and Syria-based opposition activists have confirmed that Turkey has sent hundreds of Syrian opposition fighters to fight in Nagorno-Karabakh.