Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the military to prepare equipment to help evacuate Filipinos in the Middle East in case open hostilities erupt.
Duterte called for an emergency meeting with defense officials on Sunday to discuss how US-Iran tensions could impact on the safety of Philippine citizens in the Middle East, especially those in Iran and Iraq, the department of defense said in a statement.
In a televised speech Monday, the Philippine leader said he is considering calling Congress for a special session to ensure that there are stand-by funds in case Filipinos in the Middle East have to be repatriated.
“We, Filipinos, are really in grave peril,” Duterte said in a speech. “I am nervous. Iran seems to be bent on a retaliation which I think will come. It’s a matter of time.”
The Middle East is the Philippines’ largest destination for land-based workers with deployment at more than one million annually, according to latest government data. The region also is the second-largest source of cash remittances from overseas Filipinos, based on central bank data.
There are 6,000 Philippine citizens in Iraq and 1,600 in Iran, according to the department of defense.