Philippine soldiers and military assets are said to be deployed in the Middle East to assist distressed Overseas Filipino Workers. Moreover, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzaga reassured that the two battalions from the Army and Marines will not be sent for combat purposes.
“Mandatory repatriation from Iraq remains in effect, while Filipinos in Iran, Libya, and Lebanon who wish to come home because of the recent tensions will be assisted by the government. “Personnel to be deployed in the conflict areas will exclusively assist in the repatriation and humanitarian operations,” states Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzaga, in an article by Philippine Star.
Lorenzaga also revealed that the defense department is ‘ready to provide the support necessary in the repatriation efforts to ensure the safety of Filipinos in the Middle East’.
“The order stays for the mandatory repatriation in Iraq. The policy has not changed. The alert level in Lebanon is downgraded to level 2, while it’s level 1 in Iran. If it’s level 2, that means to be just prepared for evacuation and stay away from public places,” states Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles in the same Philippine Star article. On the other hand, Iraq remains at Alert Level 4, calling for mandatory repatriation.
Moreover, the Department of Transportation revealed that Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, and Air Asia have committed to providing aid in the event that mandatory repatriation will take place. According to Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines Director General Jim Sydiongco, Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific have agreed to accommodate fleeing OFWs free of charge. Air Asia, meanwhile, has committed to providing possible allocation and free accommodation of repatriated Filipinos who need to go back to their respective provinces. Read more: 2 AFP Battalions on standby for Middle East evacuation.