President Benigno Aquino III on Friday assured over a million Filipinos working in the Middle East that there will be employment opportunities for them elsewhere in case they are displaced due to the escalating tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
"We have a capacity na ‘yung to absorb all of these people and get them gainfully employed in case all of them are repatriated," Aquino said in a media briefing in Davao City.
Aquino said there are roughly about 1.1 million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the Middle East region.
"Walang pangamba si Secretary Baldoz na ‘yung kung kakailanganin ay makaka-provide ang gobyerno ng retraining at saka job placement from these returning countrymen of ours," he said, referring to Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz.
Relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran were strained following Riyadh's execution of Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr on Saturday.
Protesters in the Shiite-majority Iran attacked Saudi’s embassy in Tehran hours after the execution, forcing Riyadh to cut ties with Iran.
On Wednesday, Aquino met with several members of his Cabinet the growing tensions in the Middle East.
Aquino said he has directed Philippine embassies and consular offices in the Middle East to review its contingency plans in case there will be a need to repatriate OFWs.
"Ni-review ulit ‘yung kanilang mga contingency plans. Pero isa sa una kong pinag-utos, siguraduhin natin ‘yung mga organisasyon na katulong natin kung saka-sakali ilikas ‘yung mga kababayan natin ay up to date ‘yung contacts," he said. —Kathrina Charmaine Alvarez/KBK, GMA News