Philippines prepares to evacuate citizens in Middle East

Duterte called for emergency meeting to discuss how tensions in region could impact Filipinos there. (Reuters pic)

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the military to prepare equipment to help evacuate Filipinos in the Middle East in case open hostilities erupt.

Duterte called for an emergency meeting with defence officials on Sunday to discuss how US-Iran tensions could impact on the safety of Philippine citizens in the Middle East, especially those in Iran and Iraq, the Department of Defence said in a statement.

The Middle East is the Philippines’ largest destination for land-based workers with deployment at more than 1 million annually, according to latest government data.

The region also is the second-largest source of cash remittances from overseas Filipinos, based on central bank data.

There are 6,000 Philippine citizens in Iraq and 1,600 in Iran, according to the Department of Defence.