By: Philippine News Agency
January 9, 2016 6:43 AM
MANILA, Philippines — The military is ready to evacuate overseas Filipino workers from the Middle East, where tensions have escalated following Saudi Arabia’s execution of prominent Shi’ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, Armed Forces chief General Hernando Iriberri said.
“We are just waiting on what directive the government will give us,” Iriberri said.
There are over one million OFWs in the Middle East.
Iranians protesting the January 2 execution of Nimr attacked and burned the Saudi embassy in Tehran, triggering the cutting off of diplomatic and trade relations between the two countries and fueling fears of sectarian strife in the Middle East.
Saudi Arabia is also leading a coalition that has been bombing Shi’ite Houthi rebels in neighboring Yemen. Migrant workers’ advocates have urged government to map out plans for some 5,000 OFWs working along the border between the two countries in danger from fighting in the area.
Iriberri said the AFP’s C-130s and its new C-295 medium transport aircraft give it the capability to evacuate Filipinos from the Middle East.
“If there is a need to use that to transport our OFWs then we will be more than glad to provide mobility assets if directed,” he said.