By Genalyn Kabiling
President Rodrigo Duterte is willing to go to the Middle East if needed by the military in the repatriation efforts of Filipino workers.
The President made the offer on Tuesday during the send-off ceremony of two naval ships for a “sacred mission” to safeguard the lives of Filipinos in the conflict-stricken region.
“There will be imponderables to reckon with. Hindi natin alam (we don’t know), but I hope that this mission will succeed. Do not worry, I will be with you and if need be pupunta rin ako doon kung magkahirapan (I will go there if there will be difficulty),” he told the Philippine Navy troops before they left the Manila port.
Duterte said he would closely monitor the movement of the naval troops heading to the region to evacuate Filipinos to safer grounds.
“I pray that you will carry [out] this mission successfully. I wish you luck. I’ll add with my prayers that the winds will sail you to the Middle East safely. 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 wherever you are (I will go to you wherever you are),” Duterte said.
The two ships — BRP Ramon Alcaraz and BRP Davao del Sur — have been dispatched to ferry to safety Filipinos affected by the tension in the Middle East. The evacuation of Filipinos from Iraq was recently authorized by the President following the tension between the United States and Iran.
Duterte said the Navy troops would embark on an “important journey” to ensure the safety and security of Filipinos in the Middle East. He expressed hope that “everybody will be safe.”
“This undertaking attests to the courage and indomitable spirit of our soldiers and our kababayans, through which we can overcome any challenge and adversity.”
He also lauded the Philippine Navy for its timely efficient and responsive humanitarian and lifesaving efforts, saying such commitment is “truly noteworthy.”
“As you bring home our brothers and sisters who exemplify the very best of Filipino excellence and professionalism as migrant workers, we also recognize your efforts to alleviate their suffering in times of need.
“I trust that you will exert all efforts and work hand in hand with the Secretary of the Department of National Defense to encourage affected Filipinos in the Middle East to return to the Philippines or be evacuated to safer ground.”
He also promised that the government will sustain programs to enhance the capacity and efficiency of the Philippine Navy.
“May your selflessness and dedication to duty inspire patriotism and integrity among our citizenry, so they may also do the same to their fellow kababayans (countrymen),” he said.