AFP on standby for possible evacuation of OFWs in ME
Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) - January 9, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has placed on standby all available air assets for possible emergency evacuation of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the Middle East amid mounting tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia has cut diplomatic relations with Iran following the execution of Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr and the attacks on the Saudi embassy in Iran.

“We are just waiting for a directive from the government,” AFP chief Gen. Hernando Iriberri said.

Iriberri said the military has put in place contingency plans for the OFWs in Saudi Arabia and Iran.

He said the welfare of the Filipinos in the Middle East was on the agenda of the AFP command conference attended by top defense and military officials at Camp Aguinaldo on Wednesday.

Iriberri said he is confident the military can conduct air evacuation of OFWs if the security situation in the Middle East worsens.

“We can deploy our air assets if directed by the government,” he said.

He said the Philippine Air Force has three C-130 cargo planes and three medium-lift aircraft, which were acquired under the government’s multibillion-peso AFP modernization program.

“If there is a need to use these aircraft to transport our OFWs, we will be willing to provide the mobility assets,” Iriberri said.

At present, there are more than one million Filipinos in Saudi Arabia.

Following Saudi Arabia’s mass executions, Iranians responded by attacking the Saudi embassy in Tehran.

ACIRC ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES CAMP AGUINALDO FOLLOWING SAUDI ARABIA HERNANDO IRIBERRI IRAN AND SAUDI ARABIA IRIBERRI MIDDLE EAST NIMR PHILIPPINE AIR FORCE SAUDI ARABIA
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