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Mandatory evacuation for FIlipinos in Iraq

January 08, 2020 - Wednesday 6:01 PM by PNA

Article Banner Image VOLATILE. A protester holds anti-US placards next to police officers during a rally in front of the US embassy in Manila on January 6, 2020, demonstrating against the US strike that killed Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani in Iraq. The Philippine government has raised the crisis alert level in Iraq to 4 or mandatory evacuation. Ted ALJIBE/AFP

MANILA -- The Philippine government has raised the crisis alert level in Iraq to 4 or mandatory evacuation, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) confirmed Wednesday.

Iran has launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against US military and coalition forces in Iraq, the Pentagon confirmed Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila).

"As a result of the government's coordination meetings on the situation in the Middle East in the past few days, the Alert Level 4 in entire Iraq has been raised to Alert Level 4 calling for mandatory evacuation," DFA Assistant Secretary Eduardo Menez told reporters.

Since the mandatory evacuation was raised by the Philippines, Filipinos who will be leaving Iraq will undergo the normal procedure of getting their exit papers, according to the Philippine Embassy in Baghdad.

"Dahil wala pa sa Iraq, ito ay galing sa atin, normal procedure po 'yan, kakailanganin 'yong visa at ticket (Since the announcement of evacuation did not come from Iraq, it was from us, this would be a normal procedure, you would still need a visa and a ticket)," said Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Jomar Sadie on Wednesday.

"Sino po ang mag-sisecure ng exit visa kung employed? Ito ay employer. Kung walang employer o biktima ng human trafficking, makipag-ugnayan po kayo sa amin (Who will secure the exit visa if employed? The employer. If you don't have an employer or you're a victim of human trafficking, contact us)," he added.

Sadie gave assurance that the Philippine government would repatriate any Filipino who may be affected or displaced by the ongoing crisis in the Middle East.

PREPARING. President Rodrigo Duterte, seen here presiding over the Joint Armed Forces of the Philippines-Philippine National Police (AFP-PNP) Command Conference in Malacañan Palace on Tuesday, says government is bracing for a "worst-case" scenario for Filipinos working in the Gulf states. ALFRED FRIAS/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

Meanwhile, he advised Filipinos in the area to remain vigilant, exercise caution and maintain situational awareness.

"Ngayon kasi ang status natin, ang marching order sa amin ay mandatory repatriation (Now our status, our marching order is mandatory repatriation)," he said.

According to official count from the Embassy, there are around 1,190 documented and 450 undocumented Filipinos in Iraq.

Last Sunday, Sadie reported that "three rockets were fired towards the green zone" while some Filipino workers at the US Embassy in Iraq reported that "one rocket landed near the United Nations compound".

The tensions in the region continue to escalate following the death of Qassem Soleimani, head of Iran's elite Quds military force, in a United States airstrike on January 3.

This still image from an Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting video shot on January 8, 2020 allegedly shows rockets launched from Iran against the US military base in Ein-al Asad in Iraq. HO / IRIB / AFP

Missile strikes confirmed
The Pentagon had confirmed on Tuesday that Iran has launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against US military and coalition forces in Iraq.
"At approximately 5:30 p.m. (EST) on January 7, Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against U.S. military and coalition forces in Iraq," the Pentagon said in a statement.

"It is clear that these missiles were launched from Iran and targeted at least two Iraqi military bases hosting U.S. military and coalition personnel at Al-Assad & Irbil," the statement said.

The White House said earlier Tuesday that it had noticed the reports of attacks on US facilities in Iraq, saying that President Donald Trump is monitoring the situation closely and consulting with his national security team.

Worst-case scenario
President Rodrigo Duterte admitted on Tuesday that his administration is bracing for the possibility that the current stand-off between the United States (US) and Iran could turn into a "worst-case" scenario for the Filipinos working in the Gulf states.

In a media interview, the President said one of the solutions that would help address the plight of Filipino workers in the Middle East is the impending negotiations of Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) Abdullah Mamao with the Iranian and Iraqi governments.

"I have sent Secretary Mamao. He's a Maranao. He's a Cabinet member. He's my fraternity brother. I trust him. I've sent him to both Iran and in Baghdad if he can make it to talk to the leaders about the plight of the Filipino workers," Duterte said on the sidelines of an event at the Palace.

"The order is just to get the assurance that my countrymen will have the egress, just in case hell breaks loose in the Middle East," he added. PNA and Xinhua