MANILA (UPDATE) — Sen. Panfilo "Ping" Lacson on Sunday urged the Philippine government to prepare "safety nets" that would protect Filipinos from the economic repercussions of Russia's possible invasion of Ukraine.
While Ukraine is far from the Philippines, an invasion in the eastern European nation will have adverse effects in other countries, said Lacson, a presidential candidate in the May elections.
"An invasion of Ukraine may adversely affect the stock markets all over the world. Prices of basic commodities and fuel may increase. We need to be prepared for this," Lacson, who also chairs the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security, said in a statement.
He asked the government what its plans are for Filipinos who are in Ukraine and in neighboring countries.
"We hope that there are contingency plans for increases in prices, disruptions in supply chains and possible repatriation of Filipinos not just in Ukraine but in neighboring countries," he said.
Some 380 Filipinos are in Ukraine, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
Sorsogon Gov. Francis "Chiz" Escudero, who is seeking a Senate comeback in the elections, called on the DFA to prepare flights to repatriate Filipinos in Ukraine.
"As other countries are calling on their citizens to leave Ukraine, I urge our DFA, if they have not done so, to do the same. We should also be ready to provide free humanitarian flights for our OFWs and repatriate them back to our country safely," he said in a statement.
"Huwag na nating hintayin na kung kailan lumala ang sitwasyon ay saka lamang kikilos at aasikasuhin ang lahat," he added.
(Let's not wait for the situation to worsen before we move and attend to these things.)
Escudero said the DFA should also monitor the conditions of Filipinos in Ukraine's neighbors Belarus and Moldova "as these may be affected if the situation worsens."
On Sunday, Australia and the United States directed its embassies in Ukraine to evacuate staff members as Russia continued to build up troops on its border with the eastern European country.