Philippine president voices concern over tensions in the Middle East

MANILA, Jan. 6 (Xinhua) -- Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday voiced concern over the "evolving crisis" in the Middle East and the danger it poses to approximately 3 million Filipinos working in that region.


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"We do not know what would be the end result of this crisis. It could lead to a protracted war. It could be a wide-scale strife. But whatever it is we Filipinos are really in great peril," Duterte said in a speech at the presidential palace.

On Sunday, Duterte convened a security meeting attended by military and police commanders to discuss "the gravity of the situation" in the Middles East.

Filipinos in Saudi Arabia and Israel will be at risk if Iran takes retaliation, he added.

"If that happens, then we have a trouble because of our overseas Filipino workers are stationed, majority of them are in Saudi Arabia," Duterte said.

Already, Duterte ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines "to prepare its air and naval assets to evacuate and bring home (the Filipinos) if and when open hostilities erupt in the Middle East that may endanger their lives."

Tensions heightened in the Middle East following the U.S. killing of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani in a U.S. airstrike near Baghdad's International Airport days ago.