MANILA (Mabuhay) – Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte lashed out at United Nation Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) commander Lt. Gen. Singh Singha over the issue involving the standoff between Syrian rebels and Filipino peacekeepers in Golan Heights.
In his weekly television program, Duterte said Singha should be shot in the head for calling Filipino troops “cowards” after they defied an alleged order to surrender to the Syrian rebels during a standoff last August 28.
“I am offended… Kapag nakita nyo yung UN general barilin nyo sa ulo. Sabihin nyo request ni Mayor Duterte,” the mayor said.
“Filipino soldiers are not obliged to kill for any country except your own,” he added.
Singha is the force commander of the Filipino UNDOF troops who decided to craft a dangerous escape out of position 68 in the Golan Heights.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said this was an order given after the Filipinos were engaged by the rebels in a seven-hour firefight, significantly depleting their supply of ammunition.
In an interview with the publication “India Today,” Singha accused the Filipino troops of being unprofessional for breaking the chain of command.
Singha also implied that it was the Filipinos who aggravated the situation in the Golan Heights.
“The non-professional actions of the Filipino troops have endangered the lives of the Fijian soldiers. They have defied orders at a time when we had negotiated a ceasefire with the rebels to ensure that all troops in the conflict area could exit,” said Singha, as quoted by India Today.
The early morning evacuation by the Filipino troops – the very act of defiance lauded by the AFP as “the greatest escape” – was called by Singha as nothing more than cowardice.
“It is an act of cowardice to desert posts especially when a delicate ceasefire was in place,” Singha was quoted as saying. “They broke the chain of command and UN orders.”
Singha said the move by the Filipinos ruined the ongoing negotiation with the rebels, both for safe passage of the Filipinos from position 68 and the possible release of the Fijian peacekeepers.
Gen. Gregorio Catapang Jr., chief of staff of the AFP, however, said Singha was about to extricate the Filipinos from position 68 the same way he did with those in positions 60 and 69, but then changed his mind at the last minute.
“General Singha ordered no military operations. He put a stop to it. He told us when the next attack comes in, surrender your firearms and put up a white flag,” Catapang said. (MNS)