VICE-PRESIDENTIAL aspirant Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said neutrality in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is damaging to overseas Filipino workers in particular and to the Philippines in general.
“Baka kung tayo ay neutral ay ma-sanction din tayo. That means no bank transactions across national borders. Baka makasama tayo at maapektuhan ang ating mga OFWs at hindi na makagamit ng international financial system,” Pangilinan said in a media interview.
Pangilinan said Philippine neutrality is out of the question as the United States and Europe have already imposed financial sanctions against Russia for invading Ukraine.
“Dapat unahin ang interes ng mga Pilipino. Ang pagiging neutral ay pag-una sa interes ng Russia,” he said.
Pangilinan said the Philippines cannot stay neutral on the issue of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine also because the country may get the same treatment if China invades us.
“Pag ginawa rin ng China sa atin ang ginawa ng Russia sa Ukraine, ano ang sasabihin ng ibang bansa sa atin? Bakit kayo neutral noon?” he said.
“Kaya kinakailangan nating sumama sa kung ano ang tama, at huwag maging neutral,” Pangilinan said.
At the emergency UN General Assembly meeting on March 2 (New York time), the world body overwhelmingly voted “yes” to a resolution to reprimand Russia for invading Ukraine and demanded that Moscow stop fighting and withdraw its military forces.
Apart from Russia, the others that voted against the resolution were Eritrea, North Korea, and Syria. Thirty-five members, including China, abstained.
On Wednesday (March 9), non-resident Ukraine Ambassador to the Philippines Olexander Nechytaylo appealed to the Philippine business community to stop dealing with Russia as the invasion has killed many civilians, including children, and has destroyed homes and critical infrastructure.
“We call upon the Philippines business community to stop any business dealing with Russia, as every dollar earned by Russia will be used, directly or indirectly, to continue the criminal war in Ukraine,” Nechytaylo said in a statement.
“We call to join ethically and socially responsible global businesses, which have already stopped or suspended operations with or in the Russian Federation, refusing to finance Russian violence, murders and crimes against humanity with their taxes. Don’t be a part of the crime, stop doing business on the blood now!” he added.
President Rodrigo Duterte has already expressed concern over the global impact of the Russian invasion but is yet to personally condemn it. He has nurtured close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom he once called his “idol.”
In Duterte’s 2019 visit to Moscow, Philippine and Russian firms signed 10 trade and investment agreements amounting to about P660 million.
In May 2021, the Philippines celebrated the 45th year of the establishment of diplomatic relations with Russia, with the possibility of cooperation in areas of vaccine, defense, space, and energy.
Earlier this week (March 9), Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that the Philippine government will proceed with a deal to buy 17 helicopters from Russia that was signed in November 2021 and partially paid for in January. He said that he does not see the P12.7 billion contract being scrapped as of the moment.
According to news reports, the first batch of the helicopters will be delivered about two years after Duterte’s term ends in June; the helicopters can be used for combat, search and rescue operations, and medical evacuations.