SECURING OVERSEAS WORKERS. President Rodrigo Duterte convenes national security officials at the Malacañan Palace on January 5, 2020. During the meeting, the President discussed contingency measures to ensure the safety of Filipinos based in the Middle East amid tension between the United States and Iran. (Presidential Photo)
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Lt. Gen. Felimon Santos Jr. on Monday said the military is monitoring local terror groups that might express sympathy to Iran following the killing of its top general.
In an interview with reporters, Santos said President Rodrigo Duterte met with Philippine security officials to discuss actions on the impact of the killing of Qassem Soleimani in a US airstrike on January 3.
“We presented our actions taken. No. 1 is our monitoring (of the situation) with our defense attaché(s) (in the Middle East). No. 2 (is to) intensify our intelligence monitoring on the local terrorist group that might express sympathy to the Iranian cause but as of now (we are still to detect any local terrorist groups) that are affiliated with Iran,” he said.
He said plans have been presented to the president should evacuations in the Middle East need to be carried out, including military assets that could be used in evacuating overseas Filipinos and routes that might be taken.
He said possible assets that are ready for deployment include the Philippine Air Force’s Lockheed C-130 “Hercules” transport aircraft of which there are four to five in its inventory and large transport ships of the Philippine Navy which includes the two strategic sealift vessels, the BRP Tarlac (LD-601) and BRP Davao Del Sur (LD-602), and two Bacolod City-class logistic vessels, the BRP Dagupan City (LS-551) and BRP Bacolod City (LS-550) along with smaller cargo ships.
“We are improving our plans just to cover everything just in case but right now we are ready to deploy anytime when the indicators show and the decision of the government for us to deploy, we will deploy immediately,” he added.
Following the general’s death, tensions escalated in the Middle East as Tehran vowed a fierce retaliation against those responsible for the death of Soleimani. (PNA)