DFA Calls Meeting on Plans for Middle East OFWs


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(SDN) — WAR, hopefully, is not imminent in the Middle East. Or a conflagration could burn everyone’s hope for peace.

But the United States President Donald Trump had already provided a potential  spark for a wider conflict with the Islamic Republic of Iran after the American leader ordered the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, highly revered by his countrymen.

The American military carried out on a Friday, January 3, 2020, Trump’s assassination order on Soleimani, head of the Islamic Republic’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

America’s drone attack on the car of the Iranian general and Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, deputy chairman of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Committee (IPMC) occurred in Baghdad, Iraq, on the airport road.

Leaders across the world have expressed their views the assassination would impact parts of the globe.

Not the least to be affected is the Philippines of a potential all-out war between the long-standing enemies — America and Iran.

Around two million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are employed in countries in the Middle East, including in Iraq and Iran, but the bulk of the expatriate Filipino community are based in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (around one million), and hundreds of thousands more combined in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman (the six Gulf Cooperation Council or GCC members).

In relation with this concern, President Rodrigo R. Duterte earlier ordered government agencies to draw up plans for the emergency repatriation of affected OFWs.

The President, perhaps not uncharacteristically, said the Philippines will side the U.S. if Iranian retaliation will harm any Filipino.

DFA, OFWs, conference, plans, emergency, Middle East, Iran, America
DFA MEETING. Foreign Secretary Teodoro ‘Teddy’ Locsin, Jr., in white long sleeve shirt. Image from DFA website.

He already ordered the return home of Filipinos in Iraq.

Today, January 8, meanwhile, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) headed by Foreign Secretary Teodoro “Teddy” Locsin, Jr. convened an Inter-Agency Command Conference on Plans for OFWs in the Middle East, the DFA website announced.

Conference participants came from the Office of the President (OP), House of Representatives-Office of the Speaker, Department of National Defense (DND), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), National Security Council (NSC), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Transportation (DOTr), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), and Office of Civil Defense (OCD).

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Sarah Lou Y. Arriola led the meeting at the DFA.

On January 7, the DFA also issued an advisory for OFWs in Saudi Arabia in relation with “recent developments in the region.”

“Filipino communities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) are advised to be vigilant against potential security threats, observe security measures and protocols established by the Saudi government, and abide by the laws, rules, and regulations of the (KSA),” the department said.

Iran is home to 1,600 Filipinos, and 6,000 in Iraq, the AFP said.

In the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, BARMM spokesperson, noted that in the world, cited Israel and the U.S. as “just the two states in the world that authorize the assassination of other country’s officials.”

Sinarimbo described this “a complete disregard of international law, the rule of law and of due process, where no trial of whatever kind to arrive at a conviction and a subsequent enforcement of a judgment of sort, comes from these two countries which claim to be champions of the rule of law, international law, and of due process.”

He said Soleimani’s assassination “is an affront to international law and the very idea of justice. This evil practice must be stopped if we are to promote a peaceful international community.”

On the other hand, the American President justified the killing of the Iranian general as “meant to head off an imminent attack on Americans.” (CNN.com)

Later, Trump admitted, the CNN added, that “he was also motivated by retribution after the death of an American contractor at an Iraqi military based, possibly caused by Iranian-backed militias, or violent protests at the US Embassy in Baghdad.”

Iran has since then retaliatory missile attack on two Iraqi bases housing U.S. soldiers.

Iran also threatened to attack the UAE and Israel in case there is a retaliation for the missile attack the Islamic country unleashed. (SDN)





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