MANILA- The Philippines on Tuesday sent 2 military ships to the Middle East to rescue Filipinos in the region even as tensions between the United States and Iran have de-escalated.
President Rodrigo Duterte led the send-off ceremony for over 400 sailors aboard BRP Davao del Sur and BRP Ramon Alcaraz in what he described as a “sacred mission.”
“This is a sacred mission and it is really to save the lives of the Filipino people,” Duterte said in his speech.
“I hope and as I said, I pray that you will carry [out] this mission successfully,” he added.
The vessels are expected to reach Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in 25 days with a refueling stop in Sri Lanka, Philippine Navy Public Affairs Office chief Lt. Commander Maria Christina Roxas said.
Roxas explained that the ships would serve as a sea-based platform that can provide accommodation to Filipinos who want to evacuate
Around 700 Filipinos can be ferried by the BRP Davao del Sur while Ramon Alcaraz will serve as a base for the troops, she added.
Malacañang earlier said the Philippines would evacuate its people from Iran and Iraq on the orders of President Duterte as uncertainties in the Middle East linger.
The President assured the Navy of his support even noting that he would be willing to go to the Middle East if needed.
“Do not worry I will be with you and if needed pupunta din ako doon kung magkahirapan (I will also go there if it gets difficult),” he said.
“I will keep track of every moment of your trip and I will be there in case you need me. Pupunta ako doon sa inyo (I will go) wherever you are.”
Another Philippine ship, BRP Gabriela Silang, is on standby in Malta and ready to sail to help Filipinos in danger.