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1月9日のまにら新聞から

AFP to deploy two battalions of Army, Marines to repatriate Filipinos in Middle East

[ 446 words|2020.1.9|英字 (English) ]

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to deploy two battalions of Army and Marine troops for repatriation of Filipinos in Middle East.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said soldiers will be deployed to Middle East not to fight but to assist Filipinos returning home.

"The idea of the president is for us to send (troops) there just in case our people need protection. The two battalions will not be there to engage in combat to anybody but to facilitate or help assist in the repatriation of the OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) especially in Iraq," he said.

Lorenzana said Duterte directed the AFP to prepare a battalion of Army and Marine troops.

"The president said one Army and one Marine battalion," he said.

"That is why we will send combat troops though they they are not there to enagge but they must be able to defend themselves. That is why we will deploy military troops in case of an ambush... they should protect themselves," he added.

Lorenzana did not say when the military will send its assets and personnel to Middle East but he said implementation of an evacuation order has started.

"That (evacuation order) is already implemented. That is why our officials were there to check who wants to evacuate. So the first job of the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs and ( Department of Environment and Natural Resources) Secretary (Roy) Cimatu... is to go around and ask who wants to go home and then they will bring them to a safe place so we can bring them home," he said.

Lorenzana said troops and military assets will be deployed once logistics and documentations or diplomatic clearance are completed.

"We are still in the planning stage. We are still preparing the troops then ( DFA) Sec. Locsin is still negotiating with other countries there on papers needed for the entry of our troops and logistics because we will send ships and aircraft, like where will they land, where will they dock, the refurbishments, refuelling, supplies. All of those we will have to be arrange," he said.

Lorenzana said among military assets that will be deployed to the Middle East will be two landing dock ships of the Philippine Navy: BRP Tarlac and Davao del Sur, two C-130 and one C-295 of the Philippine Air Force.

He also reiterates that according to Duterte, the Philippine government may also hire cruise ships or commercial planes if a lot of Filipinos would like to come home.

Lorenzana said the government has funds for repatriation.

"We have money. We don't yet have the figure, only estimates, but it will be , couple of hundred million ( pesos)," he said. Robina Asido/DMS