Cayetano calls for calm amid rising tensions in Middle East
The government has prepared repatriation and quick-response programs for overseas Filipino workers in the Middle East should tensions in the region escalate in the coming days, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said Saturday.
“There is no need to be alarmed at this point but if the situation escalates, we can be expected to respond and lead our kababayans out of harm’s way,” Cayetano said in a statement.
Cayetano said the DFA is monitoring situations in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Iraq.
Last week, Saudi Arabia, where almost a million Filipinos work, intercepted a ballistic missile over Riyadh.
The largest nation in the Middle East is also experiencing political tensions as Crown Prince Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman rounded up at least 200 royals, ministers and businessmen over an alleged $100-billion embezzlement scheme.
In the same week, Riyadh and Beirut also locked horns over the alleged detention of former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri. Hariri, who flew to Riyadh before resigning his post via a televised speech, has yet to return to his home country.
Saudi has called on all its nationals in Lebanon to immediately leave the country. At least 30,000 Filipinos are employed in Lebanon.
The DFA said it is “also monitoring the Kurdistan Region, host to 3,000 Filipino workers, after tensions flared between Baghdad and Erbil in the aftermath of an independence referendum in the region.”
Teams that will assist Filipinos should an evacuation be necessary are on standby in Saudi, Lebanon and Iraq, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Sarah Lou Arriola said.
The DFA is also offering repatriation assistance for OFWs who wish to return the Philippines from the Middle East, she said.