Thursday, January 7, 2016

PNoy tasks DFA to ensure safety of Filipinos in Middle East amid Saudi-Iran row

President Benigno Aquino III has directed the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to ensure the safety of Filipinos working in the Middle East amid the escalating tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Aquino met with members of his Cabinet Wednesday afternoon to discuss the tension in the Middle East, where more than a million Filipinos are working.
Present during the meeting were Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Jesus Yabes, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, and National Security Adviser Cesar Garcia Jr.
“President Aquino directed the DFA to continue monitoring closely the situation in the Middle East, in view of political tensions in the region,” said Communications Secretary Hermino Coloma Jr.
“He emphasized that government's top priority is to ensure the safety and well-being of Filipinos. He said that comprehensive contingency measures must be put in place and implemented with maximum coordination among all concerned agencies,” Coloma added.
The DFA earlier said there is no immediate threat against Filipinos in Saudi Arabia and Iran, and that the Philippine government is not considering issuing a travel advisory and raising a security alert level at the moment in the two countries. 
In Saudi Arabia alone, Filipino workers are estimated at 800,000. There are no available figure for Iran, but Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said most of Filipinos there are married to Iranian nationals. 
Relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran were strained 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. — RSJ, GMA News

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