AFP: Probability of North Korea missile hitting PH is 'remote'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 14) — While the probability of a missile from North Korea hitting the Philippines is "remote," the military is on alert for any development, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Brigadier General Restituto Padilla said on Monday.

"Dadaan siya sa [The missile will pass through the] southern part [of] Japan, but not in any part of the Philippines. But... the probability of it not going straight — may end up having the missile land somewhere else," Padilla told CNN Philippines' The Source.

"Those are the kinds of probabilities that we are preparing for. We see this as remote, but just the same, preparation is very important," he added.

This comes after North Korea threatened to strike with ballistic missiles areas around the United States territory of Guam, which is almost 2,500 kilometers east of the Philippines. U.S. President Donald Trump warned that the western power would respond with "fire and fury."

Related: North Korea 'seriously examining' a strike near Guam

Padilla added that a midair explosion may send debris to Philippine territory.

Related: Debris from North Korea missile strike of Guam could reach PH - AFP

"Kapag yan ay sumabog sa parte ng Southern Japan, at ang hangin ay medyo, papunta sa atin, maaaring yung debris bumagsak sa may northern part ng archipelago — Batanes, coastal town ng northern Apari, Aurora, yung mga lugar na yun," said Padilla.

[Translation: If the missile explodes near Southern Japan, and the wind is moving towards the Philippines, debris can land in the northern part of the archipelago Batanes, the northern coastal town Apari, Aurora, those places.]

Padilla said they were treating the situation as a civil defense case.

"So the Office of Civil Defense has adequate preparations laid out in paper with the Armed Forces as a participant," said Padilla.

"On our part, we continue to monitor [the situation] closely together with all other allies... including South Korea, U.S., [and] Japan itself, who will provide information immediately after the detection of a launch," he added.

On August 5, the foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) condemned Pyongyang's nuclear and missile testing activities through a joint statement.

U.S. and Japan asked ASEAN to take a stronger stance against North Korea, with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson even suggesting to cut the rogue state off completely during the ASEAN Regional Forum.

North Korea, however, pointed a finger at the U.S. and claimed its missile testing was legitimate military defense.

Related: Be impartial, practical on denuclearization issue - North Korea to ASEAN

The United Nations Security Council also slapped sanctions targeting exports like coal, iron, lead, and seafood against the reclusive state.

Evacuation plan for Filipinos in danger

Padilla said in the event of an attack, the military would deploy its assets as well as tap chartered ships to ferry Filipinos to safety.

According to the Central Intelligence Agency, there is a population of about 42,000 Filipinos in Guam. Meanwhile, there are 242,000 Filipinos in Japan and 58,000 Filipinos in South Korea according to figures from the Japan Justice Ministry and Department of Foreign Affairs respectively.

"We can deploy our ships from the Navy. We have two big ships already — two SSVs (strategic sealift vessels), we have five C-130 [planes], and three other medium-lift types of aircraft... These can all be deployed in addition to the charter service of bigger ships," said Padilla.

The three medium-lift aircrafts can carry 70 passengers each, while a C-130 plane can carry 150. The ships can accommodate 500 to 700 people each, bringing the total passenger capacity of military vessels to roughly 2,360.

Padilla added that evacuating through these vessels will also be "a personal choice," noting that some Filipinos may also have families abroad.