NUEVA ECIJA, Philippines—”What we did was defend ourselves.”
After the Force Commander of the United Nations Disengagement Force called the “greatest escape” an act of “cowardice” the Armed Forces of the Philippines responded that they were only doing their mandate for the United Nations and the Republic of the Philippines.
“Our mission there is to separate Israel and Syria in the area of separation and to keep the peace,” Lieutenant General Ramon Zagala, AFP Public Affairs Office Chief, said Thursday. “It is never our duty to do offensive operations.”
Lieutenant General Iqbal Singh Singha, Force Commander of the UN Disengagement Force, broke his silence Thursday (Philippine time) saying the Philippine escape from Position 68 after a seven-hour firefight against Syrian rebels was “an act of cowardice.”
In a report from India Today, Singha said the “non-professional actions of the Filipino troops have endangered the lives of the Fijian soldiers.”
Singha added that he was in a position that would guarantee the safe exit of both Filipino troops and the captured Fijian soldiers as he was in negotiations with the Syrian rebels.
Zagala said that Singha, instead of repositioning the troops from Position 68 to join the other troops from Position 69, allowed the 40 Filipino troops to engage in a seven-hour firefight against Syrian rebels double their number.
“He left us there, our ammunition is low, and he told us if we were attacked again that we should lay down our arms and raise the white flag,” Zagala said. “Now what’s more cowardice?”
Zagala added that the seven-hour standoff and the greatest escape was “definitely” not an act of cowardice.
He then returned the label to Singha whose mere orders are the ones to receive the “cowardice” tag.
“To endanger our troops unnecessarily is the act of cowardice,” Zagala said. “Surrendering the firearms and waving the white flag instead of repositioning them, I think that’s the act of cowardice.