MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Foreign Affairs is encouraging Filipinos in Afghanistan to voluntarily return home, in light of the heightened tensions in that country.
In an advisory, the DFA said it issued Alert Level 3 (voluntary repatriation phase) for Afghanistan, as tensions remain high following the conduct of presidential elections last June 14.
Alert Level 3 is declared when violent disturbances or external aggression occurs in a limited area of a country.
"With this announcement, Filipinos in Afghanistan are strongly encouraged to volunteer to return to the Philippines," the DFA said.
There remains a total ban on deployment of Filipino workers to Afghanistan.
The DFA said it is continuing to monitor the political and security developments in Afghanistan.
On Monday, Afghan presidential contender Abdullah Abdullah's camp rejected preliminary results of last month's run-off election as a "coup" against the people, putting him on a dangerous collision course with his rival, Ashraf Ghani.
The Independent Election Commission announced on Monday that Ghani won the June 14 second round with 56.44 percent of the vote, according to preliminary results. The tally might change when the final official numbers come out on July 22.
Abdullah's camp responded angrily, saying the result was invalid because it did not throw out all the fraudulent votes.
"We don't accept the results which were announced today and we consider this as a coup against people's votes," said Mujib Rahman Rahimi, a spokesman for Abdullah's campaign.
His rejection sets the stage for a possible bloody standoff between ethnic groups or even secession of parts of the fragile country, which is already deeply divided along tribal lines.
In a blunt warning, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington expected "a full and thorough review of all reasonable allegations of irregularities" and that there was no justification for violence or "extra-constitutional measures".
"Any action to take power by extra-legal means will cost Afghanistan the financial and security support of the United States and the international community," Kerry said in a statement issued as he travelled to China on Tuesday.
Abdullah, a former anti-Taliban resistance fighter, has long alleged widespread fraud in the messy and protracted vote and insisted results should be delayed until all problematic poll stations have been audited.
Ghani, for his part, has strong support from Pashtun tribes in the south and east. Hundreds of people took to the streets to celebrate in the southern city of Kandahar late on Monday.
The deadlock over the vote has quashed hopes for a smooth transition of power in Afghanistan, a concern for the West as most U.S.-led forces withdraw from the country this year. - With Reuters