The Philippine government has issued an assurance that it is prepared for possible North Korean missile launches targeting Guam.
Speaking at a press briefing, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said: “The embassies and consulates in general including the one in Agana, Guam, have contingency plans which are regularly updated to enable them to respond to emergencies.”
About 43,000 Filipinos live in the US territory of Guam, which is about 1,500 miles from the Philippines. More than a quarter of the island’s surface is covered by US military bases.
“It’s pretty automatic that if there are any threats especially for those that are in affected areas, they have contingency plans for these things,” Mr Abella added.
Mr Abella’s statements follow North Korea’s threat to fire missiles to “within 30-40 kilometres” of Guam.
In an interview with CNN Philippines today (Thursday, August 10), Philippine Consul General in Guam, Marciano de Borja, also said that plans were in place should North Korea attack the island.
“If there’s really a threat coming, then we’ll be able to advise the community and ask support from the Philippine government regarding evacuation and other contingency measures,” he said.
Mr De Borja added that a security umbrella was in place “to intercept any ballistic missile that will be fired against Guam”.
“Evacuating our people here may be difficult, but we just have to prepare for it,” he said.
Speaking today, house representative John Bertiz urged the government to prepare response measures in case tensions between the two countries continued to escalate.
“I urge the government to have the safety of our OFWs as paramount among our concerns. Contingency plans and response measures must be ready. Our best diplomats, strategists, negotiators, and problem solvers must be at or near the table of the National Security Council.”
North Korean state media reported today that plans for the strike would be ready within days and just needed the go-ahead of Kim Jong Un.
Tensions between North Korea and the US have escalated in the past months, as the secretive state has ramped up its nuclear weapon and ICMB programme.
North Korea has fired 18 missiles since February. On Monday, the UN imposed fresh sanctions on Pyongyang, expected to slash the state’s annual $3 billion export revenue by more than a third.
The North Korea issue was at the forefront of this week’s Asean meetings in Manila.
In a statement addressed to the chairman of the summit, North Korea’s foreign minister claimed that his country would be a “responsible nuclear power” and will pose no threat to other countries – unless they join forces with the United States.