Defense Chief: 'No-sail zones' eyed for possible N. Korea missile attack

Story updated to include August 12 statement of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 11) — Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the government may impose "no-sail zones" in coastal areas in light a possible missile attack by North Korea on Guam.

"Our Office of Civil Defense is on standby and prepared to address any untoward incident that may occur in the aftermath of such a missile launch," he said. "It may also issue no-sail-zone advisories to coastal areas and alert advisories to local government agencies to step up preparedness of local communities in case the debris of a missile launch reaches the Philippines."

The Defense Secretary's statement comes after North Korea said on August 10 that it is "seriously examining a plan" to launch a missile strike at military bases in the U.S. territory of Guam, which is located around 2,500 kilometers east of the Philippines.

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

Armed Forces of the Philippines Spokesperson Restituto Padilla said in an August 11 Palace briefing that debris from the possible missile strike could reach the Philippines.

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

"If ever it disintegrates in the atmosphere, potentially, it would have shattered debris that may scatter around in the area or its trajectory," he said. "So it could hit some northern coastal areas. We have to forewarn our citizens to be on the lookout, but that's something that we see as remote."

Studying its options

Lorenzana said on Aug. 11 the government is studying its options as the the conflict between United States and North Korea heats up.

If the U.S. goes to war with North Korea, the defense chief said he wasn't sure how to respond. North Korea earlier threatened to fire missiles, targeting an area near the U.S. territory of Guam.

"This is different kasi, mga rockets na lang pinapalipad. Anong gagawin natin dyan, wala naman tayong laban dyan, sa rockets nila? Let's see how these things develop, dahil nagkakainitan, sagutan," Defense chief Delfin Lorenzana said Thursday.

[Translation: This is different since these are rockets we are talking about. We have nothing to be able to deter those rockets. Let's see how these things develop. Things are heating up.]

U.S. President Donald Trump warned the reclusive state that any additional threat will be met with "fire and fury."

READ: Trump on North Korea: Maybe 'fire and fury' comment 'wasn't tough enough'

Almost 43,800 Filipinos live in Guam, which is located approximately 2,500 km east of the Philippines.

READ: Abella: Plans in place if North Korea strikes near Guam

The Philippines has a Mutual Defense Treaty with the United States signed in 1950  that binds the two countries to defend each other if either party is under attack in the Pacific region.

According to the treaty's Article IV, "Each party recognizes that an armed attack in the Pacific area on either of the parties would be dangerous to its own peace and safety and declares that it would act to meet the common dangers in accordance with its constitutional processes."

The defense chief, however, said even a mere public declaration of support to U.S. will need the approval of the President or Congress.

In the meantime, Lorenzana said the country is monitoring the tension closely to see how it will directly affect the Philippines.

"We are watching with concern kung ano mangyari dyan dahil sa tingin ko hindi naman accurate masyado yung rockets nila, baka mamaya magkamali biglang bumagsak. Sabi nga ni Presidente, mamaya bumagsak sa Luneta yan e, pati tayo, masunog tayo dyan," he added.

[Translation: We are watching with concern because I think their rockets are not that accurate. It might miss its target. The President even said, what if it lands in Luneta, we'll be burned.]

CNN Philippines' David Santos contributed to this report.