Aquino on Saudi-Iran crisis: Keep 1M Filipinos safe
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines on Wednesday, January 6, said President Benigno Aquino III ordered his government to keep more than a million Filipino workers safe as tensions grip Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr said Aquino directed the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) “to continue monitoring closely the situation in the Middle East, in view of political tensions in the region.”
“He emphasized that government's top priority is to ensure the safety and well-being of Filipinos,” Coloma said.
Aquino also stressed the need for “comprehensive contingency measures” involving various agencies.
As of December 2013, up to 1.028 million Filipinos work in Saudi Arabia, latest data from the Commission on Filipinos Overseas, indicate.
At the same time, more than 4,800 Filipinos remain employed in Iran.
This comes after the execution of a Shiite cleric fueled a crisis between regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran. (READ: Timeline of the latest Iran-Saudi crisis)
On Sunday, January 3, Saudi Arabia broke off diplomatic ties with Iran after protesters ransacked its embassy in Tehran to protest the execution of the Shiite cleric.
Iran's supreme leader said Saudi Arabia would face “quick consequences” for executing Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.
Washington, for its part, urged regional leaders to soothe escalating sectarian tensions between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. – with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com