Gov’t must appoint ‘Middle East crisis manager,’ Trillanes urges
Aside from preparing contingency plans, the Philippine government should also appoint a “Cabinet-level crisis manager” for the Middle East, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV said on Friday.
“It is high time that we appoint a Cabinet-level crisis manager for the Middle East to make sure that somebody is on top of the situation on both strategic and operational levels,” Trillanes, chairman of the Senate committee on national defense, said in a statement.
He said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of Energy (DOE) should also prepare contingency plans that could be immediately implemented should the brewing tension in the Middle East, particularly between Iran and Saudi Arabia, continue to escalate.
“The rapid deterioration of the situation in the Middle East, particularly between Iran and Saudi Arabia is quite alarming. The DFA and DOE should start preparing contingency plans to ensure the safety of the more than two million OFWs [overseas Filipino workers] in the region, and to anticipate the crisis’ impact on our energy needs,” said the senator.
READ: Saudi-Iran row puts 2M OFWs in danger
Saudi Arabia earlier announced that it was cutting its diplomatic ties with Iran, following a massive and destructive rally by Iranians in front of the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Iran to protest Saudi’s execution of Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr last January 2. Some analysts say an escalation of the tension between these two countries could be a potential threat to global oil prices.
“As early as now, the Department of Foreign Affairs should map out emergency response/repatriation measures in case the situation worsens and we need to evacuate or at least ensure the safety of our OFWs in the region,” Trillanes said.
“Also, the Department of Energy should look for alternative sources of oil and formulate energy reduction policies to mitigate the impact of this crisis,” he said.
Trillanes said the country has been importing oil from Saudi Arabia since 1993 and the crisis could greatly aggravate the volatile energy situation in the country.
“Our government should have a proactive mindset and should anticipate all possible scenarios, so that we won’t be caught flat-footed again,” the senator added. CDG
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