Government assures safety of Filipinos in Middle East

MALACAÑANG said Tuesday that the government is ready to evacuate Filipinos in the Middle East if the need arises.

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. made the statement in the wake of the tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

"Nakahanda ang pamahalaan na isagawa ang nararapat na hakbang upang pangalagaan ang seguridad ng ating mga kababayan sa nabanggit na mga lugar," he said, citing that the Philippine posts in the Middle East have been monitoring the developments.

He said the government has existing emergency procedures that are being followed in case problems that might affect the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) arise.

"Batid natin merong Alert Level 1, Alert Level 2, Alert Level 3 at Alert Level 4. Sa kasalukuyang administrasyon ay nagkaroon tayo ng iba’t ibang karanasan. Kung maaalala natin ‘yung pagpapalikas ng ating mga kababayan sa Egypt; naganap din ito sa Libya. At nakikipag-ugnayan din tayo sa iba’t ibang mga Embahada at Consulada ng ating mga kaibigang bansa," Coloma said.

He cited the agreement between the Philippines and Indonesia wherein they pool resources whenever emergency arises and needs evacuation of their nationals.

"Iyong kongrektong pwersa ng ating Embahada ay usually 25 to 30 lang ‘yung usual staff nila. Ino-augment naman ito ng mga iba’t iba pang mga opisina. Pero makatitiyak tayo na pinaghahandaan ito at sapat ‘yung resources natin para makatugon sa anumang emergency," he added.

On the possible increase in the prices of oil because of the tension in the Middle East, the Palace official said the Government continues to push for renewable fuels program.

"Meron din tayong pananaw na sa pangmatagalan ay kinakailangang mabawasan ‘yung ating dependence on imported oil at kasama rin ito doon sa kabuuang estratehiya ng pagpapababa ng greenhouse gases, ‘yung lessened volume of use of fossil fuels. Kaya ang lahat ng mga hakbang na ‘yan ay isinasaalang-alang sa pagtingin natin sa sitwasyon ngayon sa Gitnang Silangan," he said.

But Coloma hoped the problem between Saudi Arabia and Iran will be resolved and the situation will stabilize so that there would be no need to evacuate the 2.5 million OFWs in the region, most of them in Saudi Arabia. (SDR/Sunnex)

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