MANILA, Nov 14 (Mabuhay) – The Philippines on Saturday joined the international community in condemning the coordinated attacks in Paris that left more than 100 people dead and dozens others injured.
“The Philippines and its people stand in solidarity with the people of Paris and all of France, in this time of deepest sorrow and the gravest outrage against the perpetrators of these crimes,” President Benigno Aquino III said in a statement.
Aquino said that the coordinated attacks are “atrocities that demand a united voice from the world in condemnation and grief.”
He added: “In our time of need, France and her people stood shoulder to shoulder with the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan. We stand with France now, in the firm belief that the light must never dim in Paris.”
Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman Charles Jose, meanwhile, called the attacks in Paris as “cowardly.”
“The Philippines condemns unequivocally the horrific terror attacks on Paris. There is no possible justification for such barbaric savagery. The world must stand together against violent extremism,” Jose said.
French President Francois Hollande declared a state of emergency following what he described as an unprecedented terrorist attack that was staged days before France was to host a global climate conference.
Hollande also ordered the French borders closed.
At least 100 were reported killed by armed men in the Bataclan concert hall and more people in various locations – in bars and restaurants – in the city.
Jose said that so far, no Filipino was reported hurt in the simultaneous gun and bomb attacks in the French capital.
“We are grateful that no Filipinos thus far have been reported hurt in these incidents,” he said.
There are around 48,000 Filipinos in France, according to 2013 data by the Commission on Filipinos Overseas, while more than 10 million are scattered across the globe, making them vulnerable to security threats, calamities and domestic conflicts in their host countries.
Philippine Ambassador to France Ma. Theresa Lazaro said on GMA News’ Balitanghali that there are 10,000 to 12,000 Filipinos in Paris alone.
The Paris attacks also came days after G20 leaders, which include the United States, Germany, Russia, China, India, are scheduled to convene in Turkey on November 15 to 16 and in Manila for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit on November 18 to 19.
Jose assured that the Philippine government is beefing up its security for the high-profile Manila meetings, where leaders and representatives of 21 economies would attend, including US President Barack Obama, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“Our security officials are monitoring and assessing the situation and are taking the necessary precautions to ensure the safety, security and well-being of all delegates,” Jose said.
Aquino said in his statement that there are no credible threats so far in the Philippines.
“The PNP is on alert and our security forces are assessing the situation, including the continuing evaluation of our security procedures. There is no credible threat registered at this time but let us all be cooperative and vigilant,” he said.
Malacanang also asked Filipinos in Paris to abide by the instructions of the police and local authorities in Paris, which has been placed on lockdown following the attacks.
“The Philippines mourns the dead and stands shoulder-to-shoulder with France. At a time that demands heightened security from all of us, we ask Filipinos in Paris to heed the instructions of the authorities and for all of us to cooperate and be vigilant here at home,” Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said on state-run dzRB radio.
Valte said that the Philippine embassy in Paris is willing and ready to assist Filipinos in need of assistance.
“Our Philippine Embassy is ready and is continuing to monitor the situation should assistance be required to be expended to any of our citizens there whether tourist or resident,” Valte said.
“The attacks on a concert venue, the vicinity of a stadium, and on restaurant showed not only premeditation but the cruelty that demands the greatest indignation from the world,” she added. (MNS)