By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Muntinlupa Rep. Rozzano Rufino “Ruffy” Biazon strongly urged on Saturday President Duterte’s Security Cluster to “sit down” and map out security plans, fearing that violence might erupt and escalate in the Middle East, following the United States’ airstrike that killed Iran’s top military commander, and a senior Iraqi official near Baghdad’s airport.
The senior vice chairman of the House Committee on National Defense Security made the call, saying that the Philippines should brace for the possible economic and security impact after US President Donald Trump ordered the drone strike to “terminate” Qassem Soleimani.
“It is apparent that this action initiated by the US President which was not cleared through the US Congress took the world by surprise and judging by the initial reactions, it has an impact on the country. Short of convening the National Security Council, at least the security cluster should sit down and work on this,” he told The Manila Bulletin when asked about the implication of the US strike on the global and domestic security and economic landscape.
He expressed concern that the escalation of regional tension in the Middle East would affect the more than hundreds of thousands of overseas Filipinos workers (OFWs) in the region.
“Filipinos working or living in the region might also be affected and may need to be evacuated if violence erupts and escalates,” he said.
He said the targeted attack on Quds Forces Commander Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces Commander Abu Mahsi al-Muhandis would have security and economic impact, given that the Philippines is one of the US allies and the country is dependent on Middle East oil.
“The Philippines should brace for the possible consequences that may have an impact on the country’s security and economic concerns,” Biazon said.
In a letter, Iran protested before the United Nations the US strike as unlawful criminal act, and called it state terrorism.
The country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reportedly sought “harsh revenge” following Soleimani’s death.
“In particular, the expected retaliation as announced by high officials of Iraq and Iran could range from direct military action against the United States to even terrorist attacks on the US including its allies,” Biazon said.
“On the economic side the escalation of violence in the Middle East will also have an effect on the Philippines which relies on Middle East oil. The resulting instability in that region also has an effect on the world economy, which would definitely be felt domestically,” he warned.
He said convening the National Security Council “should be an option if the situation calls for it.”