Imee: More Diplomacy, Less Military In OFW Rescue Ops

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Senator Imee Marcos has cautioned 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.

“Bakit napako na lang si Secretary Locsin sa Twitter? Naiintindihan ko ang tiwala ng Presidente sa ating mga sundalo para gampanan ang kanilang tungkulin, pero diplomasya ang dapat na nangunguna sa ganitong mga sitwasyon,” Marcos said.

“Sanay at trabaho talaga ng DFA ang makitungo sa mga bansa, at ang pag-evacuate ng mga OFW ay tungkulin ng DFA, DOLE at ng mga pulis na sinanay ng 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 pointed out.

The problems 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 said.

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.