By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
SINGAPORE — President Duterte is relieved that leaders of the two Koreas are now pushing to end the decades-long war between the North and the South.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque made the statement after North Korean President Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae In announced Friday that the Koreas will push for three-way or four-way talks with the United States and Beijing in order to establish permanent peace in the peninsula.
Both leaders have also agreed to denuclearize Korea. North Korea’s nuclear warfare and testing caused great concern over the past years and even escalated last year when tension arose between the rogue state and the United States.
But with the positive development in the Peninsula, Roque, in a press briefing Friday evening, said that everyone, including President Duterte, is relieved from worrying that a nuclear missile may hit Philippine territory.
“Of course everyone is relieved because we were all looking at the past prospects of a nuclear encounter in our backyard. So very much relieved. As you know, whenever they test their missiles, it always lands on Philippine waters,” Roque told Malacañang reporters in Singapore Friday evening.
The Palace official added that he is almost certain that the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will also congratulate the Koreans in their effort to bring peace to their land after being apart for at least 60 years.
“I think it’s almost sure that they will express relief over these developments and will congratulate the Koreans for their effort to talk peace among themselves, as an encouragement to proceed with the talks,” Roque said.
History was made Friday morning after Kim crossed the world’s heavily armed border at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) to meet with his rival Moon for talks about the North’s nuclear weapons. Kim also invited Moon to cross the border briefly before they returned to the southern side.
Last year, Duterte, as then ASEAN chairman, expressed concern over North Korea’s nuclear warfare and said that the Philippines will support Japan in its stance against the rogue state.
“We are supporting you against what North Korea is doing. We condemn the continued posturing of North Korea with the nuclear weapons,” Duterte said at the sidelines of the 31st ASEAN Summit in Manila last November.
“We have said it several times already in the past that it is not to the interest of North Korea to swagger around and threaten the world, of keeping us hostage with the atomic weapons,” he added.
During his visit to Japan late October 2017, Duterte appealed for all stakeholders to try and usher in a peaceful resolution to the situation in the Korean Peninsula.
“We need to address many issues confronting the region and threats to the stability and security [in the] Asia-Pacific. Foremost among our shared concerns are developments in the Korean peninsula and the continuing missile launch tests of North Korea,” Duterte had said in Tokyo.
North Korea’s nuclear warfare had received condemnation from the international community.
In September last year, North Korea launched its second ballistic missile over Hokkaido, Japan after threatening both Japan and the United States to reduce the two independent states to ashes and darkness.