MANILA — The Philippines on Sunday expressed its grave concern over the detonation by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) of a hydrogen bomb and urged Pyongyang to return to the negotiating table in efforts to find a solution to its nuclear and missile problem.
Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano said such provocative actions undermine regional peace and stability.
“Aside from flouting all of its commitments under relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions, this test limits our available options for meaningful dialogue to address the real issues confronting the Korean Peninsula,” Cayetano said in a statement issued shortly after DPRK announced that it tested a hydrogen bomb at its Punggye-ri nuclear test site.
Cayetano called on Pyongyang to return to the negotiating table, noting Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) stands ready to play a role in creating diplomatic space to effect meaningful dialogue.
The DFA chief currently serves as chair of the ASEAN.
Cayetano, who is now in Seoul on an official visit, met with Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary for Asia-Pacific Affairs Millicent Cruz-Paredes and Ambassador to Seoul Raul Hernandez to discuss the situation in the Korean Peninsula.
He also instructed officers and staff of the Philippine Embassy in Seoul to ensure that about 65,000 Filipinos living and working in South Korea are made aware of the contingency plans that have been prepared in case the situation further escalates.
Cayetano also assured the Filipino community there that measures are in place to make sure that the Philippine government could come to their assistance in case it would become necessary for them to evacuate.
The detonation Sunday afternoon came a few days after the DPRK launched a ballistic missile that flew over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. Leslie Gatpolintan/PNA-northboundasia.com