Thursday, January 16, 2020

Small military contingent to assist OFWs in Mideast: DND chief

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 13, 2020): Small military contingent to assist OFWs in Mideast: DND chief (By Priam Nepomuceno)

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (File photo)

Only a small contingent of Filipino troops will be deployed to assist in the repatriation of overseas Filipino workers in the Middle East, Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Sunday.

Lorenzana said the personnel would only be clad in civilian attire.

"During the last meeting of the Committee on Repatriation that I presided over as the chairman last Thursday (shortly before Secretary Roy Cimatu flew to Qatar) the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs), Secretary Cimatu and the DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) commented that it may not be wise to send uniformed servicemen to the Middle East due to the sensitivities of the countries there," Lorenzana said.

He said there were proposals to send two battalions of troops in the Middle East to help repatriate OFWs in the region but this would eat up space inside the ships.

"Hence, it was agreed that we recommend the sending of a small contingent of servicemen instead of two battalions but they will be in civilian attire and will not be armed should they be needed on the ground," Lorenzana said.

He said he had informed President Rodrigo R. Duterte of these developments and the Chief Executive has already approved of the concept.

Lorenzana said the Philippine Navy is already preparing two of its ships -- a Del Pilar offshore patrol vessel and the landing ship dock BRP Davao del Sur -- for deployment to the Middle East to help in the repatriation efforts.

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