(Eagle News) — President Rodrigo Duterte has already sent Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers Abdullah Mamao to Iran and Iraq to talk with the leaders of these countries for the purpose of securing Filipinos in the midst of heightening tension in the region, according to a Malacanang announcement.
“Well, I have sent Secretary Mamao. He is a Maranao. He’s a Cabinet member. He’s my fraternity brother. I trust him,” the President said in an interview in Malacañang regarding the condition of Filipinos in the Middle East.
Duterte said that this is in preparation in case conflict erupts in the Middle East.
“I’ve sent him to both Tehran and in Baghdad, if he can make it, to talk to the leaders about the plight of the Filipino workers. That is all there is to it. Just to get the assurance that my countrymen will have the egress just in case hell breaks loose in that — Middle East.”
The priority of the government is to evacuate overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from Iran, Iraq and other neighboring countries if a regional conflict becomes imminent, the President said.
President Duterte said he had also asked the Department of National Defense to study how the government could evacuate Filipinos from the Middle East.
A Malacanang release said the President also wanted the Department of Finance to allot funds for exigency in case a conflict situation arises.
“I hope that they would do everything to assure the safety — that no Filipino gets hurt,” he said.
On Monday, the President suggested that Congress deliberate on a plan for quick government response to a possible war in the Gulf region.
President Duterte wants a standby fund be put up for easier disbursement if there is war breaking out, saying the money should be managed by reputable individuals to prevent corruption.
On Wednesday, the Philippine embassy in Iraq raised a Crisis Alert Level 4, the highest among travel advisories, over Iraq amid rising tensions there following the killing of Iran’s top military official Qassam Soleimani from a US airstrike.
In a Facebook Live video, Philippine Chargè d’ Affairès Jomar Sadie announced President Duterte has ordered a “mandatory repatriation” of Filipinos in the country.
(with a Malacanang release)