Tag Archives: middle east

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)

Gov’t urged to form evacuation plan for OFWs in Middle East

A labor group on Saturday urged the government to create an evacuation plan for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) working in the Middle East who might be affected by a possible escalation of violence in the region.OFW EVAC

“With the growing instability in that region, there is an urgent need for a Philippine government escape plan that takes every OFWs from harm’s way either by land, sea or air,” Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) president and party-List Rep. Raymond Mendoza in a statement.
Mendoza also asked President Rodrigo Duterte to convene government agencies that would draft a plan for Filipinos in case the situation worsens.
“We therefore call on the President to convene a multi-government agency panel that would device an early escape plan which would lead or supervise a possible relocation or repatriation of our OFWs before they are directly affected by the escalating armed conflict in the region,” Mendoza said.
Mendoza said the plan involves multiple type of government responses that requires contributions from different government institutions such as the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, the Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Labor and Employment, among others.
Mendoza, who also chairs the House Committee on Overseas Foreign Workers, said the advance government plan will also bring in advance notice to OFWs and allay anxiety among them and their families back at home.
“There is no harm in being prepared, identifying contingency measures and taking due diligence in anticipation of a worst-case scenario in the Middle East,” he said.
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data showed that last year, there are around 1.2 million registered OFWs working in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Lebanon, Kuwait, Jordan, Israel, and Bahrain.
Tensions escalated in the region after top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani was killed in a drone strike in Baghdad, Iraq on Friday which was ordered by US President Donald Trump.
Tehran vowed a fierce retaliation against those responsible for the death of Soleimani. (PNA)

TRUMP: US targeting 52 Iranian sites if Tehran attacks

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.

TRUMP 2

“Iran has been nothing but problems for many years. Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats!” Trump said on Twitter.
He said Tehran was “talking very boldly about targeting certain USA assets as revenge” for the killing of Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ elite Quds Force, adding that the general was responsible for the deaths of an American and hundreds of Iranian protesters.
Soleimani was killed Friday in a strike outside of Baghdad’s airport. Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a senior commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) was also killed.
“He was already attacking our Embassy, and preparing for additional hits in other locations,” Trump wrote.
Soleimani’s slaying marks a dramatic escalation in tensions between the US and Iran, which have often been at a fever pitch since President Donald Trump decision in 2018 to unilaterally withdraw the US from the nuclear pact world powers struck with Tehran.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who gave Soleimani the country’s highest honor last year, vowed “severe retaliation” in response to his killing as Trump struck a hawkish tone of defiance.
Following the death of an American contractor in rocket attacks on a US base in Iraq, Washington carried out a series of strikes Sunday that led to the deaths of at least 25 fighters from the Iran-backed Kataib Hezbollah militia group.
The strikes were the first major attack by the US on an Iran-linked group since the withdrawal of troops from Iraq in 2011.
The US Embassy in Baghdad was then attacked by a large crowd of protesters Tuesday, leading to a two-day standoff between US forces and protesters.
The Pentagon accused Soleimani of plotting the embassy attack and planning to carry out additional attacks on US diplomats and service members in Iraq and the region. (Anadolu/PNA)