Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the deployment of two battalions to the Middle East to help repatriate thousands of Filipinos working there amid heightened tensions between the United States and Iran, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Wednesday.
Lorenzana said Duterte’s idea is to send the soldiers in the Middle East not to fight but to help protect the Filipinos especially those based in Iran and Iraq. “We are still in the planning stage. “We are still preparing the troops while the Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin is coordinating with the governments of Iran and Iraq on the documents needed to allow the entry of the troops,’’ Lorenzana said. According to Lorenzana, the Philippines plans to bring in ships and airplanes to fetch the Filipinos who wish to return to the Philippines. “We need to know where our planes can land and our ships can dock, the refuelling, the refurbishment and the like. Those things are needed to be arranged,’’ he added.