Duterte suggests standby fund for possible return of OFWs in Iran

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 6) - President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday suggested that Congress convene a special session to create a standby fund in case Filipino workers in Iran need to be repatriated.

“I suggest that Congress even for about ano lang, 1 or 2 days, discuss the problems, the ramifications [...] there’s a thing that [we] would need [to have] on standby that the government can get immediately,” said Duterte.

The United States and Iran have been exchanging threats since a U.S. drone strike in Iraq last week that killed a top Iranian military commander.

“We do not know what would be the end result of this crisis. It could lead to a protracted war, it could be a widescale strike, but whatever it is, we Filipinos are really in grave peril,” said Duterte.

He added, “It would take us a huge, gargantuan effort just in case total war breaks out of how to bring them back safely.”

Further, Duterte also shared that he already talked with government forces on Sunday to prepare if a war ever breaks out.

Newly-appointed Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Lt. Gen. Felimon Santos, Jr. said that the military presented their plans with the President during the Sunday meeting.

“Number one is of course our monitoring with our defense attache present, yung sa nearby countries,” Santos told reporters.

“Number two is to monitor, intensify our intelligence monitoring on the groups, on the local terrorist group sa atin that might express sympathy to the Iranians. As of now wala pa namang affiliated sa Iran,” he added.

[Translation: Number two is to monitor, intensify our intelligence monitoring on the groups, on the local terrorist group we have that might express sympathy to the Iranians. As of now, we haven’t monitored any affiliated groups to Iran.]

Out of the P4.1 trillion national budget for 2020, the Department of National Defense has a P192.1 billion budget while the Philippine National Police has an allocation of P187.3 billion.