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Philippines to int'l community: Reaffirm commitment to peaceful settlements of disputes

The Philippine government on Friday called on the international community to reaffirm by "more than words" its commitment to peaceful settlements of disputes amid the attacks launched by Russia against Ukraine.

In a statement on Friday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said: "We recall the UN General Assembly's adoption of the Manila Declaration on the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes which provides the legal framework for recourse to diplomacy, dialogue, and rule of law."

The DFA noted that with the situation in Ukraine, "there is no compelling reason for any of the protagonists to resort to hostile actions, turning to the Manila Declaration is the pragmatic and decent way to go."

The agency called on all parties to exert every effort to stick to peaceful and diplomatic means in resolving the conflict to maintain international peace and security.

The DFA issued the statement a day after Russian troops attacked Ukraine, drawing international condemnations, warnings and sanctions from countries, led by the United States.

According to an Agence France-Presse report, Russian missiles and shelling rained down on Ukrainian cities after President Vladimir Putin unleashed a full-scale ground invasion and air assault, forcing civilians to shelter on metro systems, with 100,000 people displaced.

Weeks of diplomacy failed to deter Putin, who massed over 150,000 troops on Ukraine's borders in what the West said was Europe's biggest military build-up since World War II.

Across Ukraine, at least 137 "heroes" were killed after the first day of fighting, President Volodymyr Zelensky said, calling up conscripts and reservists nationwide to fight in a general mobilization.

DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said he is travelling to the Ukrainian border to ensure the safety of Filipinos amid the tension in the area and oversee the government's efforts to relocate or repatriate them to the Philippines.

Locsin has said Poland has agreed to allow Filipinos leaving Ukraine to enter the country without visas. 

According to DFA Undersecretary Sarah Lou Arriola on Friday, 181 Filipinos have been accounted for in Ukraine.

Arriola assured the public that the DFA is on top of the situation in Ukraine and ready to assist Filipinos amid the tension there. She said the imposition of mandatory repatriation for Filipinos would be determined by Locsin.  —KBK, GMA News