PH send 2 Navy ships, army contingent to bring home Filipinos from Middle East

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DAVAO CITY —  The Philippine Government sent two ships with around 1,000 members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to assist in the repatriation of overseas Filipino workers in the Middle East.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday led the send-off ceremony of the contingents who were onboard BRP Davao Del Sur and BRP Ramon Alcaraz at the Port Area in Manila.

The ships and personnel aboard started sailing from Pier 13, Manila South Harbor. The voyage to the Middle East will last around 16 to 22 days and will be dependent on the ships’ speed and the current.

The two ships will lead the government’s efforts in repatriating distressed Filipino workers affected by the ongoing conflict between the US and Iran.

In his speech, Duterte expressed confidence that the troops would lead Filipino workers safely home.

“I trust that you’ll exert all efforts and work hand in hand with the secretary of the Department of National Defense to encourage affected Filipinos in the Middle East to return to the Philippines to be evacuated to safer grounds,” Duterte said.

He also assured them that the government would continue implementing programs that will enhance the Philippine Navy’s capacity.

Philippine Navy flag-officer-in-command Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad said each ship has 130 officers and enlisted personnel.

Duterte also send about 100 personnel consisting of medical, repair and “SEAL” components, will also board the ships and serve as the task force contingent.

Duterte has earlier sent Environment Secretary and Special Envoy to the Middle East, Roy Cimatu, in Qatar to prepare the repatriation and assist the Filipinos who are in Iran, Iraq, Libya, and other neighboring states.

The first batch of evacuees, numbering 14, is now at the Philippine embassy in Baghdad, Iraq.

The government has also prepared a total of PHP1.8 billion for the repatriation of Filipinos in the Middle East.

There are an estimated 4,000 Filipinos in Iraq, according to data from the Department of Foreign Affairs. -with PNA report

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