Senator Imee Marcos on Sunday warned the government about involving Philippine military personnel and transport in evacuating and repatriating OFWs in the Middle East, amid ongoing hostilities between the United States and Iran.
Marcos said diplomatic hitches, logistical delays, or worse may arise if host governments at transit and exit points see OFW rescue operations as military in character, while Filipinos maintain a Mutual Defense Treaty with US.
“Why was Secretary Locsin stuck in Twitter? I understand the President’s confidence in our soldiers to do teir duties. But diplomacy should be foremost in this situation,” Marcos said.
“It’s the job of the DFA to deal with other countries. The evacuation of our OFWs is the taskmalso of is also of DFA, DOLE and the policemen trained by the DFA,” Marcos added.
The government plans to deploy Filipino soldiers and military air and naval assets to assist in bringing OFWs home and has sent Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, who was recently appointed by President Duterte as Envoy to the Middle East, to Qatar.
Marcos wondered why not a word has been said about asking the United Nations for help when it can provide its site camps in the Middle East as temporary shelters for OFWs.
“Dapat makipag-ugnayan si
Secretary Cimatu sa UN na may maraming mga tauhan sa
Middle East, kabilang ang mga Pilipino
,” Marcos said.
She added that the problem of providing transit shelters for Filipino migrants and of reducing the number of undocumented OFWs may now complicate rescue operations could have been solved if a National Overseas Employment Authority had already been created.
Marcos filed Senate Bill 407 last July, seeking to merge DFA and DOLE expertise on OFW issues into a Cabinet-level agency, upgrading the functions of the present Philippine Overseas Employment Authority.