PH ‘deeply concerned’ as tensions rise in Middle East

The Philippine government is "deeply concerned" over the recent developments in the Middle East, citing its threat to the peace and stability in the region.

"The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) expresses deep concern over the events in Iraq and its implications on peace and security in the region," it said on Wednesday.

The latest statement reflects the country's official position days after tensions rose in the region over the death of Qassem Soleimani, head of Iran's elite Quds military force, during a US airstrike in Baghdad and following the ballistic missiles attack launched by Iran that hit two military bases in Iraq hosting US military and coalition forces.

Amid tensions, the DFA said efforts are continuing to secure the repatriation of Filipinos in Iraq.

"The DFA, in coordination with other agencies, will deploy rapid response teams (RRTs) to the region," it added.

Earlier, the DFA raised crisis alert level 4 for Filipinos in Iraq, with the Philippine Embassy in Baghdad tasked to effect the mandatory evacuation of Filipinos estimated at 1,640 in that country.

Based on the instructions of President Rodrigo Duterte, the DFA on Wednesday also announced that Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu is scheduled to fly to the Middle East to oversee the Philippines' repatriation efforts.

The country's position echoes the call of several states and the United Nations for de-escalation of tensions in the region. Recently, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres underscored that "the world cannot afford another war in the Gulf."

Source: Philippines News Agency