Locsin on evacuating Filipinos in Iran: ‘Let’s wait where the situation goes’

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 04 2020 06:25 PM | Updated as of Jan 04 2020 09:36 PM

Iranian policemen in Tehran, on Friday, hold pictures of the late Iranian major general Qassem Soleimani during a protest against the assassination of Soleimani and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who were killed in an air strike at Baghdad airport. Nazanin Tabatabaee, West Asia News Agency via Reuters

MANILA (UPDATE)—The government has yet to craft evacuation plans for Filipinos in Iran and nearby countries as tensions in the region continue to escalate after the death of one of its top military generals, Foreign Affairs Sec. Teodoro Locsin Jr. said Saturday.

Iran earlier "promised" to avenge the death of its most prominent military commander, Qassem Soleimani, who was killed after President Donald Trump authorized an overnight attack in Iraq.

"Let’s wait where the situation goes. To evacuate is like a sign of no faith in the intelligence of the countries involved," Locsin told ABS-CBN News in a chance interview.

He assured though that his department will be ready to repatriate Filipinos in Iran, if needed.

"Let me tell you, our teams in the Middle East — foreign affairs, embassies, consulates — we are ready to help you when the emergency happens," Locsin said.

"We'll get you out or we will be there with you to make sure that the same risks you run, we will run as well."

The Filipino Foreign Affairs chief earlier said that tensions between the US and Iran will not escalate into "World War III" because "there is so much to lose for everybody."

"The Iranians are probably the smartest race on the planet. They’ll think first," he said.

In a text message to ABS-CBN News, Foreign Affairs Usec. Rafael Seguis said what the US did has "negative implications," even though the Americans saw the development as a preemptive strike to defend their troops and diplomats against supposed Iran attacks.

"The killing of Soleimani would not contribute to the improvement of security situation in Iraq and the entire Middle East. Consequently, the region appears now to be preparing for greater uncertainty following the killing of Soleimani and his deputy," Seguis said.

The United States earlier sent some 3,000 additional troops to the Middle East, while Marines were ordered to man the US embassy compound in Baghdad, Iraq.

The DFA has warned Filipinos against traveling to Iraq and nearby countries.

Should the situation in Iran worsen, the Philippine government will provide an "offer to take them (Filipinos) out, to take them home," Locsin said.

— With reports from Christian Esguerra and Isay Reyes, ABS-CBN News