All PH foreign posts on alert amid US-Iran tension

Marje Pelayo   •   January 8, 2020   •   460

MANILA, Philippines – Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin has met with Iranian Charges D’affaires Nader Naseri and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Ambassador to the Philippines Dr. Abdullah N.A. Al Bussairy regarding the security of Filipino nationals in their respective countries amid the rising tensions between the United States and Iran.

The two envoys reassured the Philippine government of keeping all Filipinos safe in the event hostilities erupt in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, Locsin confirmed the readiness of all Philippine foreign posts in the Gulf region in response to the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Likewise, he assured, that the Philippine Coast Guard are already on standby in the event of massive evacuation of overseas Filipino workers (OFW).

At home, Philippine National Police (PNP) has stepped up its security measures in Embassies of the US, Iran and other allies in the country.

“We’ll be meeting the Embassies’ liaison officer or protocol officer so that we will be able to put in place what is supposed to be done,” noted P/Lt.Gen. Camilo Cascolan, the PNP Deputy Officer for Operations.

Conflict sparked between the United States and Iran after an airstrike by a US drone killed top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, a move by the US that prompted governments to caution their citizens for possible evacuation.

Locsin turns down PCG request for own attaché in Beijing

Marje Pelayo   •   August 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin, Jr. expressed opposition to the request of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to assign a Coast Guard attaché at the Philippine Embassy in Beijing.

On Wednesday (August 26), Locsin on Twitter straightforwardly said “no” to the proposal, saying the country has a Defense attaché for national defense issues and assigning another position would only compromise the country’s sovereignty over its coastal seas.

In response to Locsin, the PCG explained that such a request was approved during the time of former Coast Guard Commandant, Admiral Elson Hermogino and recommended by Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade to Locsin’s office on October 29, 2019.

It was anchored on the memorandum of understanding with the Chinese Coast Guard on the establishment of a joint committee to enhance cooperation “to strengthen mutual trust, deepen confidence, intensify communication, and enhance friendly cooperation between two countries.”

The PCG said an attaché, “would be the focal person in bilateral and multilateral engagements on the setting up of the committee, particularly in maritime search and rescue, law enforcement, security, and marine environmental protection.”

Nonetheless, while the PCG believes that the establishment of said post will significantly strengthen maritime cooperation between the Philippines and China, PCG spokesperson, Commodore Armand Balilo said the service fully respects the decision of Secretary Locsin on the matter and vows to continue to find ways to further secure the country’s maritime domain.

PCG PRESS STATEMENT26 August 2020 This is in response to the statement of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin…

Posted by Philippine Coast Guard on Wednesday, 26 August 2020

87 distressed Filipinos from Middle East return home – DFA

Robie de Guzman   •   March 2, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – More than 80 distressed Filipinos from the Middle East have returned home after availing of the government’s repatriation program, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.

In a press statement issued Sunday, the DFA said 87 Filipino workers were repatriated from Iraq, Lebanon and United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Of this number, three were from Iraq, where a deployment ban is still in place; 70 including 19 minors were brought home from Beirut amid ongoing financial crisis in Lebanon; while 14, who, according to DFA, are likely to be victims of human trafficking were from Dubai.

The said group of Filipinos were repatriated from February 26 to 28, according to DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs Sarah Lou Arriola.

Arriola also encouraged Filipinos abroad to contact the nearest Philippine Embassy or consulate if they wish to avail of the government’s repatriation program.

“Filipinos who wish to come home may simply contact the nearest Philippine Embassy or Consulate in their country to seek assistance and we will help,” she said.

DOLE assures cash, livelihood aid for Filipinos repatriated from Middle East

Robie de Guzman   •   January 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has assured that overseas Filipino workers (OFW) who were recently repatriated from the Middle East will be provided with livelihood and cash assistance from the government.

In a statement, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said returning Filipinos from Iraq amid tensions between the United States and Iran will get cash aid amounting to P20,000, for active members of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), and P10,000 for non-active members.

Last January 15, around 13 Filipinos evacuated from Iraq arrived in Manila along with some labor officials.  

The DOLE said that a total of 1,640 Filipinos, documented and undocumented, are currently in Iraq. From these figures, 847 are staying in Baghdad, 655 in Erbil, and 148 in Sulaymaniyah.

The Philippine government ordered for a mandatory repatriation of Filipino workers in Iraq last January 8. It was triggered by the hoisting of alert level 4 due to the security threats in Middle East.

The alert level for Filipinos in Iraq was raised after Iran launched a series of ballistic missile attack at Iraq’s bases, where US forces were housed.

Iran’s firing of rockets was in retaliation for the death of top military general Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a US drone strike in Baghdad last January 3.

On the same day, more than 170 passengers were killed after Iran shot down a Ukrainian plane while on alert following its missile attack against US forces.

Filipinos in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East who wish to avail of the government’s repatriation program are advised to contact the Embassy for assistance in securing exit visas and other necessary documents to ensure smooth repatriation process.

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