By: Ben R. Rosario
An administration congressman yesterday called for the immediate activation of the Presidential Middle East Preparedness Team amid tension that has been triggered by a rift among key members of the royal family in Saudi Arabia.
Airing serious concern over the latest controversy that could affect thousands of overseas Filipino workers in the Middle East, ACTS OFW Rep. Aniceto Bertiz III said the PMEPT should be placed on alert to render swift assistance to OFWs that risk displacement.
The PMEPT is headed by Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu.
Bertiz said there is a possibility that the on-going anti-corruption efforts in Saudi Arabia might trigger long-term tension mainly due to the fact that senior members of the royal family have been arrested.
“Our national interest lies with maintaining good relations with our allies in the Gulf region while ensuring the protection and welfare of millions of Filipino workers in the Middle East,” said Bertiz.
He explained that the PMEPT’s pro-active approach is imperative in addressing foreseeable problems that adversely affect the condition and security well being of millions of OFWs deployed in the Middle East.
“The activation of the Middle East Preparedness Team would help the national leadership draw up an appropriate plan to attain this objective,” Bertiz said.
Bertiz added that Cimatu has the experience and track record needed to review and when necessary, update existing contingency plans, and look at potential security and economic risks that may affect Filipino workers in the Gulf region.
The activation of the PMEPT will not take too much of the DENR Secretary’s time, considering that contingency plans are already in place, he said.