House ready to hold special session as Middle East tension heats up
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives is ready to convene a special session to tackle the welfare of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the Middle East amid rising tensions between the US and Iran.
House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez said this on Tuesday, a day after President Rodrigo Duterte called on Congress to hold a special session on the ongoing tension in the Middle East.
Romualdez said the House leadership has agreed that the tension in the Middle East is a “major concern that needs urgent legislative attention.”
“We are ready to clothe the executive with all the powers needed to make sure that every Filipino is safe and secure in these trying times,” he said in a statement.
The House is only waiting for Malacañang’s formal communication on the issue, he said.
However, while waiting, Romualdez said House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has already asked the House Secretariat “to make the necessary preparations for a special session.”
“We assure the families of our OFWs that your representatives in Congress are working closely with the Executive Department to realize the President’s desire, that no Filipinos be harmed in the course of the ongoing conflicts,” he added.
On Sunday, the President ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Sunday to get its air and naval assets ready for the evacuation of Filipinos in the Middle East should hostilities further escalate in the region.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) had also advised Filipinos to cancel all travel to Iraq as tensions may escalate in the region after a U.S. airstrike near Baghdad’s airport killed Iran’s top general, Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
Filipinos in Iraq have also been “strongly advised” to coordinate closely with the Philippine Embassy and their employers in the event that a mandatory evacuation will be necessary.
The crisis alert level for all areas in Iraq is currently on Alert Level 3, which prescribes for voluntary repatriation. The Iraqi Kurdistan region, however, remains under Alert Level 1, which is a precautionary phase.
Edited by MUF
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