July 16, 2024

Director Jomar Sadie of the Department of Foreign Affairs said Baguio City would be the first local government unit to show solidarity with the global call for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

A proposed resolution authored by Councilor Benny Bomogao supports a ceasefire, peace talks, and the entry of humanitarian aid in Gaza to prevent further loss of life, destruction, and societal problems in the area.

To understand the national government’s position on the situation in Gaza, the city council has invited the DFA to its regular session on June 10.

Sadie said the DFA welcomes the proposed resolution as it is a “positive reinforcement” of the stance of the national government on this issue.

“Indeed, the Philippines supports the efforts of the United Nations to deliver urgent humanitarian assistance and essential supplies to Palestinian civilians caught in the midst of the conflict in the Gaza Strip,” Sadie told the city council.

“We also continue to support UN peacekeeping missions in the region. We believe that a multilateral approach is crucial in addressing this crisis in preventing further escalation,” he added.

Sadie said the Philippines supports a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine.

Councilor Arthur Allad-iw sought clarification about the resolutions adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council which include calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, humanita-rian aid, prevention of forced transfers of Palestinians, and a halt to arms transfers to Israel.

Emphasizing adherence to International Humanitarian Law, Sadie said the UN resolutions mentioned by Allad-iw align with the Philippines’ positions and that the country had consistently supported these UN resolutions for decades.

Councilor Vladimir Cayabas said it wouldn’t hurt the City of Baguio to express its support for the call for a ceasefire in the area.

He urged everyone to join in supporting the initiative as it is our responsibility as global citizens to contribute to peace efforts.

In the previous city council session, Bomogao said Baguio City, despite being a small place in the Philippines, can take a stand on this issue.

“Even though Baguio City’s voice may seem small within the country, it can still have a meaningful impact by resonating with other cities, provinces, and countries,” Bomogao said.

He emphasized that supporting global calls for a ceasefire, entry of humanitarian aid, and the release of hostages demonstrate humanity.

On the other hand, Councilor Elmer Datuin expressed reservations about the proposed resolution, stating that “local governments should only be concerned with matters within their jurisdiction and should not interfere with the affairs of the DFA.”

Datuin also emphasized the strong relationship between the Philippines and Israel, as demonstrated by the establishment of sister city partnerships between the two countries.

“Approving this resolution might affect our relationship with Israel,” Datuin said.

Nevertheless, Datuin suggested that simplifying the resolution to support the Philippines’ stand on the Palestinian-Israeli “conflict” may lead to its passage in the city council.

Sadie requested more time to review the proposed resolution, saying its impact would depend on its wording.

Agreeing with Datuin, Sadie said, “This matter is indeed within the purview of the DFA. That is why we have not seen a similar resolution even from our Muslim LGUs in the South. But the DFA considers the sentiments of our Muslim population in Mindanao.”

Councilor Jose Molintas, who was earlier assigned to review the proposed resolution, asked Sadie for a copy of the Philippine government’s position to help refine the resolution to match the national government’s stance on the issue.

The Philippines, after initially abstaining from voting, has decided to support a resolution at the United Nations General Assembly that calls for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

In his speech on Dec. 13, 2023, Ambassador Antonio Lagdameo, the Philippines’ representative to the UN, expressed deep concern about the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

He said a humanitarian ceasefire is necessary to prevent further loss of life and to facilitate aid delivery to all affected civilians.

Lagdameo said while condemning attacks by Hamas fighters, the Philippines values adherence to International Humanitarian law, especially in protecting civilians and minimizing collateral damage. – Jordan G. Habbiling