Should PH remain neutral in Russia-Ukraine conflict? Candidates weigh in

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 27) — Majority of the presidential candidates disagree with the stance of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana that the country should remain neutral amid Russia's military incursion into Ukraine.

During the CNN Philippines' presidential debate on Sunday, only Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, former presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella, and businessman Faisal Mangondato raised their hands when asked whether they agree with Lorenzana's sentiment.

READ: Defense chief: PH 'neutral' on Russia's invasion of Ukraine

Defending his answer, Moreno said: "Ano naman ang kinalaman ni Juan dela Cruz, ni Pedro sa kasalukuyang hirap na kinakaharap ng (mga tao) diyan? I think before going to other things, we should attend at bigyan muna natin ng panahon kung papaano natin itatawid yung mga kakababayan natin sa pandemyang ito."

[Translation: What does Juan dela Cruz or Pedro have to do with the situation there? I think before going to other things, we should attend and focus first on how we can uplift the lives of our own countrymen in this pandemic.]

Lacson, along with labor leader Leody de Guzman, cardiologist Jose Montemayor, Sen. Manny Pacquiao, and Vice President Leni Robredo did not raise their hands.

Lacson reasoned that as a signatory to the United Nations charter, the Philippines has a right to make a stand and condemn the issue. He also expressed admiration for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for fighting for his country alongside his troops.

"Article 1 ng UN Charter, signatory tayo, kapag may aggressor dapat may pakialam tayo," the senator said. "Di masama kung makisama tayo sa mga peace-loving nations para maging bahagi ang boses natin ng pagkondena kasi aggression talaga, invasion."

[Translation: Article 1 of the UN Charter, in which we are a signatory, when there is an aggressor, we should have a say on it. There's nothing wrong with standing alongside peace-loving nations so that our voices could be among those who condemn because it's really an aggression, invasion.]

Last Thursday, Russia started its assault into Ukraine with a multi-pronged attack, after months of military buildup.

The Philippines' Asian neighbors, such as Japan and Taiwan, had already condemned Russia, declaring that they will impose economic sanctions on Russia.

A portion of Article 1 of the UN Charter states that the organization seeks "to maintain international peace and security, and to that end, to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace...and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace."