MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Thursday said it has ordered all its personnel to prepare for the possible influx of Filipino workers returning from the Middle East amid the current tensions between the United States and Iran.
In a statement, the BI said immigration personnel at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and other international airports nationwide have been told to be ready for a possible mass repatriation of Filipinos should the US-Iran tensions escalate further.
“I have directed our port operations division to see to it that adequate manpower is available to address a possible upsurge in the number of passengers arriving from the Middle East,” Immigration commissioner Jaime Morente said.
He added that the bureau is ready to deploy additional men at the airports if necessary. Airport heads were also instructed to ensure all terminals are fully manned for a smooth processing of possible repatriates.
The bureau issued the order after the government raised Wednesday the alert level 4 in Iraq, requiring Filipino workers to evacuate. Filipinos in Iran, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia were also advised to be alert of potential security threats and to coordinate with the Philippine Embassy.
The evacuation order was issued after Iran launched ballistic missile attacks against two military bases in Iraq that housed US troops, reportedly in retaliation for the death of top Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani in a drone strike in Baghdad airport last week.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier sent an envoy to Iran to coordinate with proper authorities and lay down ground work on the evacuation of Filipinos in case of conflict.
Although the alert level 4 in Iran and Lebanon has been downgraded to level 2 Thursday, the government said the evacuation of Filipinos in Iraq will still push through due to the unpredictability of the situation. A deployment ban to Iraq is also in effect.
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