President Rodrigo Duterte met yesterday with top officials of the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to assess the likely impact of the increasing tensions in the Middle East on the country, especially on affected Filipinos overseas.
“Nagpatawag na si Pangulong Duterte ng meeting kasama ang chief of staff ng AFP kung ano ang magiging epekto nito sa ating bansa at sa ating seguridad,” Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said on Sunday, January 5.
According to Go, who was present during the meeting, President Duterte ordered the AFP to be prepared to deploy military assets to repatriate overseas Filipinos in the Middle East, particularly from Iran and Iraq, at any moment’s notice, in coordination with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and other concerned agencies.
“Hindi na makaantay ang Pangulo na sa Martes pa pag-usapan sa Command Conference ang sitwasyon sa Middle East kung kaya siya nagpatawag ng emergency meeting ngayon. Mabuti na prepared tayo mag-repatriate ng ating mga kababayan if necessary, iyan ang prayoridad ng Pangulo,” Go explained.
Go added that concerned agencies were also instructed to prepare contingency measures and identify other nearby safe countries where affected overseas Filipinos can be repatriated and all other contingencies in case it will be too difficult to bring them back to the Philippines.
The senator assured the public that the government will take all steps possible to ensure the security of Filipinos in the country and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), especially in the Middle East.
“Patuloy nating minamanmanan ang sitwasyon sa Middle East, lalo na sa Iran. Nasa interes ng Pilipinas na panatilihin ang peace and stability in the region. Our concern clearly is on the safety and security of Filipinos in that country and the region,” Go said.
According to Go, the President considers the situation with utmost concern and hopes that things will stabilize, with the support of all regional and global stakeholders.
“The President has directed relevant agencies to prepare for any eventuality and possible impact on the country. As your Senator, I will support all efforts of PRRD to safeguard and protect our national interests in the Middle East,” Go said.
Very recently, relevant government agencies, including the DFA, were instructed to closely monitor and report developments in Iraq, Iran and other parts of the Middle East.