Bishop urges gov't to come up with plans for OFWs in Saudi, Iran
A Catholic bishop on Wednesday urged the government to come up with contingency plans for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the Middle East if ever tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran escalate.
"At this moment our government officials must have set up plans to help and assist our OFWs in case conflicts arise,” said Balanga Bishop Ruperto Santos, head of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines – Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant Peoples (CBCP-ECMI).
He added that the government should be ready to provide jobs to the OFWs who may be displaced by the possible conflict as well as find ways to assist their families.
"We must be ready to welcome back our OFWs here, to provide jobs here and assistance to their would-be affected families," Santos said.
Relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran soured following Riyadh's execution of Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr on Saturday.
Protesters in the Shiite-majority Iran attacked Saudi’s embassy in Tehran hours after the execution, forcing Riyadh to cut ties with Iran.
Santos said the Catholic Church is praying for peace to reign in Saudi Arabia and Iran.
"We are worried and preoccupied with tense and threatening situation between KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) and Iran," he said. "We pray for peace there."
"We hope for stability and security in the Middle East, and security of our OFWs working in those countries," the prelate added.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it is monitoring the development between Saudi Arabia and Iran "very closely" as it may impact on the large presence of Filipinos in the Middle East.
"This development in the Middle East, particularly the relations between Saudi and Iran, is important to us," said DFA spokesperson Charles Jose. "We have a strong interest in the maintenance of peace and stability in the Middle East because we have many workers there." —KBK, GMA News