Category Archives: US-IRAN WAR

Duterte to side with US if Iran ‘intentionally’ harms OFWs

President Rodrigo Duterte will not hesitate to side with the United States (US), the Philippines’ long-time ally, in the event that Iran “intentionally” attacks Filipino workers in the Gulf state, Malacañang said on Tuesday.

OFW EVAC

During the 45th Cabinet meeting held at Malacañan Palace on Monday night, the President gave a “friendly caution” that the Philippines will not take a “neutral” stance with regard to the rising tensions between the US and Iran.

Duterte made it clear that his administration will “side with the Americans,” in case Iran deliberately harms overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the Middle East, Panelo said.

“Hindi tayo magiging (We will not be) neutral. The President was very specific in saying last night that if the Filipinos are harmed, he will side with the Americans,” Panelo told Palace reporters in a press briefing.

“If they will harm the Filipinos, then the President will not sit down idly and watch,” he added.

Tensions between US and Iran continue to escalate after Qassem Soleimani, top Iranian military commander, was killed in a drone strike carried out by the US in Baghdad, Iraq last Friday.

Iran vowed revenge following Soleimani’s death, but the US also warned of attacking around 52 Iranian sites.

On Monday, the President sought the repatriation of OFWs in the Middle East, as he feared Filipino workers there might be put in peril amid the conflict between the US and Iran.

Duterte also asked Congress to prepare a “standby fund” that could be used for the possible repatriation of Filipino workers in the Middle East.

The Middle East hosts about 1.2 million OFWs.

The President’s latest pronouncement came, amid possibility that Iran might harm Filipinos working in the Arab nations, considering that the Philippines is an ally of the US, Panelo explained.

“Ang sinasabi ni Presidente, huwag niyong idamay ang mga Pilipino diyan sa away ninyo sa America kasi ‘di ba (The President is telling them not to involve Filipinos in their fight against the America because you know), we’re supposed to be allies of the Americans, and the enemies might also attack not only the Americans but the allies of the Americans,” he said.

“Kung papatayin mo ang mga Pilipino, ibig sabihin hindi tayo iimik? Eh ang kalaban nila ang Amerikano. Kaya nila gagawin ‘yun dahil kakampi tayo ng Amerikano (If they kill Filipinos, does it mean we will not make a move? Their enemies are the Americans, not us. If they kill Filipinos, that’s because we’re an ally of Americans),” Panelo added.

The Philippines established its diplomatic relations with the US in July 1946. The two nations also signed a Mutual Defense Treaty in August 1951 that serves as a foundation for a robust, balanced, and responsive security partnership.

Panelo, however, said the Commander-in-Chief failed to talk about the Philippine troops’ possible cooperation with the American forces, in case the situation in the Middle East exacerbates.

Meantime, diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Iran started in January 1964.

Don’t harm OFWs

Panelo said the primary concern of the President is the safety of the OFWs in the Middle East.

He stressed that Duterte’s only appeal for Iran is to ensure that the lives of the Filipino workers in the Gulf state would not be jeopardized.

The Palace official pinned hope that Iran would heed Duterte’s plea to protect OFWs amid its tensions with the US.

“He (Duterte) is expressing his concern for the safety of his countrymen, which is foremost in his mind,” he said.

“Ang sinasabi lang ni Presidente, huwag niyong idamay ang aking mga kababayan diyan. Eh most likely naman, palagay ko naman hindi nila idadamay (The President is telling them not to harm our countrymen there. Most likely, perhaps, they would not hurt them),” Panelo added.

Panelo said Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers Abdullah Mamao and former special envoy and incumbent Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu are set to fly to the Middle East on Tuesday to relay the President’s grave concerns over the safety of OFWs there.

Cimatu was tasked by Duterte to meet with officials of the Arab countries and discuss the Philippines’ plan to repatriate Filipino workers there, while Mamao was directed to deliver the President’s special messages to the Iranian and Iraqi governments.

The messages to Iran and Iraq contained the President’s expression of concern over the safety of the Filipinos working in the two host countries, and conveyed his urgent desire that “no Filipinos be harmed in the course of the ongoing conflicts,” Panelo noted in a statement. (PNA)

US VS. IRAN UPDATE: Trump warns Iraq of ‘very big’ sanctions if US forces expelled

Trump warns Iraq of ‘very big’ sanctions if US forces expelled

WASHINGTON DC — If the Iraqi government forces the removal of US forces, Baghdad will face “sanctions like they’ve never seen before,” President Donald Trump said Sunday.Trump said the prospective economic penalties would far outweigh the crippling sanctions the US has imposed on… Read More

 

Iraqi parliament decides to expel US troops

BAGHDAD — The Iraqi parliament on Sunday decided to expel American troops from the country.In an extraordinary session, the parliament unanimously decided to send the US and foreign troops out of the country.In a statement, the parliament said the implementation of the decision is within the… Read More

 

US targeting 52 Iranian sites if Tehran attacks: Trump

WASHINGTON DC — US President Donald Trump threatened Saturday to hit Iranian targets for any attacks on Americans or the US in the wake of the killing of top Iranian general by an American airstrike.”Iran has been nothing but problems for many years. Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes… Read More

 

UN chief urges restraint after US kills Iranian general

WASHINGTON — UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for all parties to exercise “maximum restraint” in the Persian Gulf after the US assassinated a top Iranian general in Iraq.Guterres “is deeply concerned with the recent escalation,” his spokesman Farhan Haq said in a statement.”This is a… Read More

AFP monitors local terror groups sympathetic to Iran

DUTERTE EVAC OFW
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.
SANTOS“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)

DUTERTE ORDERS AFP: Prepare air, naval assets for MidEast evacuations

OFW EVAC

In the wake of rising tension between the United States and Iran, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has been ordered by President Rodrigo R. Duterte to prepare its air and naval assets which could be used in the evacuation of overseas Filipino workers in the Middle East should hostilities erupt in the region.

This, according to Department of National Defense (DND) spokesperson Arsenio Andolong in a message to reporters Sunday night.
DUTERTE EVAC OFW
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)
“The President has tasked the AFP to prepare its air and naval assets to evacuate and bring home our countrymen if and when open hostilities erupt in the Middle East that may endanger their lives,” Andolong said.
He said this order came after the Chief Executive called for an emergency meeting with DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, newly-appointed AFP chief-of-staff, Lt. Gen. Felimon T. Santos, Jr., commanders of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, Philippine National Police chief, and their principal staffs on Sunday afternoon.
The meeting, he said, was conducted to ensure the safety of Filipinos working in the Middle East especially those deployed in Iran and Iraq whose well-being could be endangered in the event of open hostilities.
“The sole agenda was how to ensure the safety of our countrymen in the Middle East especially those in Iraq and Iran as the tension between the US and Iran rises. There are 1,600 and 6,000 Filipinos in Iran and Iraq, respectively,” Andolong said.
Tensions escalated in the Middle East after top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani was killed in a drone strike in Baghdad, Iraq on January 3 which was reportedly ordered by US President Donald Trump.
Tehran vowed a fierce retaliation against those responsible for the death of Soleimani. (PNA)