President Rodrigo Roa Duterte answers queries from members of the media following the conferment ceremony of the Order of National Scientist on Dr. Emil Javier at the Malacañan Palace on January 7, 2020. KING RODRIGUEZ/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Tuesday said he sent Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers Abdullah Mamao to Iran and Iraq to talk with the leaders of those countries to secure Filipinos in case a conflict erupts in the Middle East in the midst of heightening tension in the region.

“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.

“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.

At the same time, the President said he has asked the Department of National Defense to study how the government could evacuate Filipinos from the Middle East. He also wants the Department of Finance to reserve a certain amount for such 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.

Balikbayan Media Center
Balikbayan Media Center

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