News Release

Gov’t needs standby fund to quickly react to rising Mideast tensions, says President Duterte

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers a speech after signing into law the General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2020 during a ceremony at the Malacañan Palace on January 6, 2020. KING RODRIGUEZ/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Monday said he wants Congress to put up a standby fund needed to secure thousands of Filipinos in the Gulf region in case a conflict breaks out as the tension between the United States and Iran heightens following the killing of an Iranian general.

“I was tinkering with the idea of calling a special session of Congress,” President Duterte said in a speech during the signing of the 2020 General Appropriations Act in Malacañang.

“He (Secretary Dominguez) says we had the money. If it spells the difference between the life and death of Filipinos, Sonny Dominguez says we have the money.”

The President suggested that lawmakers deliberate on the issue and put up a standby fund and a body that will disburse money in case of emergency particularly in moving thousands of Filipinos away from danger zones.

A conflict breaking out will mean trouble for the Philippines because most of the country’s OFWs in the Middle East are stationed in Saudi Arabia, the President said.

“We need billions there, standby lang. And calculate what would be the — the calibrated withdrawals. First, in places where it is really very dangerous,” he said, adding a committee composed of honest individuals is needed to prevent corruption.

On Sunday, the President called for an emergency meeting with defense officials to tackle how the growing tension between the US and Iran could impact on Filipinos in the Middle East.

The President ordered the military to prepare for the deployment of assets that could be used to transport Filipinos away from the region in case open hostilities erupt. PND