AFP ready to deploy if gov’t orders evacuation of Filipinos in Middle East

Aileen Cerrudo
Iranians attend the funeral ceremony of Qasem Soleimani, the late Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Major General and commander of the Quds Forces, in the city of Tehran, Iran, 06 January 2020. Soleimanil was killed in a targeted US airstrike on 03 January 2020, in Baghdad, Iraq.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) announced on Monday (January 6) that it is prepared to deploy its air and naval assets once the government orders the evacuation of Filipinos in the Middle East.

AFP Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Felimon Santos Jr. said they have already laid out their contingency plan to President Rodrigo Duterte.

“The indicators will be determined. Pag-uusapan namin ng national government (we will discuss it with the national government) the go signal is from them especially with the DFA with all the inputs,” he said.

Among the air and naval assets available include the C-130s as well as new frigates that are able to travel to the Middle East.

The AFP chief of staff added they are still improving their plans due to the possibility that tension might spread in neighboring countries of Iran.

“We are improving our plans not only on Iran and Iraq but the whole Middle East. We don’t know; it might spread to other countries, especially if you know the history of the war. It might spread to Israel. There are probabilities like that,” he said.

Meanwhile, the AFP is monitoring a possible retaliatory act of Iran in countries allied with the United States (US).

It is also monitoring local terrorist groups who might sympathize with the Iranian militia.

“Siyempre mayroong sympathetic, either by race or by ideology, so the PNP [Philippine National Police] is profiling possible threats, possible groups who may take advantage or who might share sympathies (Of course, there will be those sympathetic, either by race or by ideology, so the PNP is profiling possible threats, possible groups who may take advantage or who might share sympathies). So our intelligence monitoring will be continuous up until medyo luminaw na iyong problema doon sa Middle East (until the problem in the Middle East clears up),” Santos said.

Tensions between the U.S and Iran rose following the death of Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani on January 3 after the US launched an airstrike on an airport in Baghdad, Iraq.

President Rodrigo Duterte called for an emergency meeting in Malacañang on Sunday (January 5).

This is to determine the possible effects of the rising tension on thousands of Filipinos in the Middle East especially in Iran and Iraq.—AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)

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