JEDDAH 16 January 2020 — The Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah convened a meeting to brief the Filipino community in the western region of Saudi Arabia on the Philippine government’s contingency plans in view of recent security developments in the Middle East, specifically in Iran and Iraq on 10 January 2020.
There are an estimated 200,000 Overseas Filipino Workers in the western region of Saudi Arabia. The majority of them are in the Makkah area where the city of Jeddah is located. Around 20,000 are in the southwestern regions of Asir, Najran, and JIzan, which border Saudi Arabia with Yemen to the south.
During the briefing, Consul General to Jeddah Edgar B. Badajos shared the recent updates on the security situation in the western region and reassured the community of the Philippine government’s readiness to repatriate or provide other forms of assistance to those who are affected by the conflict between the United States and Iran. He also urged everyone to remain alert and vigilant despite the apparent “cooling down of the situation”.
Head of the Consulate General’s Assistance-to-Nationals Section, Vice Consul Lemuel Lopez, discussed the Consulate’s Contingency Plan. He informed everyone of the “exit points” and “convergence sites” should the security situation deteriorate and reach a point of a mandatory evacuation of Overseas Filipino Workers in the western region. He added that “although the Contingency Plan lays down certain basic protocols and procedures, it is a work in progress that can benefit a lot from the community’s inputs to ensure that it reflects the realities on the ground.”
Some members of the Filipino community who were already in Saudi Arabia during previous instances of heightened tensions in the Middle East shared their own experiences and assured the group of the relative safety of the Kingdom compared with other countries in the region.
Consulate General Community Relations Unit Head Consul Mary Jennifer D. Dingal, discussed the Consulate’s notional calendar for 2020 which reflects the events and activities of the Consulate and the various Filipino Community Groups all-year around.