By Macon Araneta

Sen. Imee Marcos on Sunday warned the government about involving Philippine military personnel and transport in evacuating and repatriating OFWs in the Middle East, amid on-going hostilities between the United States and Iran.

Marcos said diplomatic hitches, logistical delays, or worse may arise if host governments at transit and exit points see OFW rescue operations as military in character, while Filipinos maintain a Mutual Defense Treaty with US.

“Why was Sec. Locsin shocked in the Twitter? I understand the President’s confidence in our soldiers to do their duties. But diplomacy should be foremost in this situation,” Marcos said.

“It’s the job of the DFA to deal with other countries. The evacuation of our OFWs is the task of DoLE and the policemen trained by the DFA,” Marcos added.

The government plans to deploy Filipino soldiers and military air and naval assets to assist in bringing OFWs home.

Marcos wondered why not a word has been said about asking the United Nations for help when it can provide its site camps in the Middle East as temporary shelters for OFWs.

“Dapat makipag-ugnayan si Sec. Cimatu sa UN na may maraming mga tauhan sa Middle East, kabilang ang mga Pilipino,”” Marcos pointed out.

The problems of providing transit shelters for Filipino migrants and of reducing the number of undocumented OFWs may now complicate rescue operations that could have been solved if a National Overseas Employment Authority had already been created, Marcos said.

Marcos filed Senate Bill 407 last July, seeking to merge DFA and DoLE expertise on OFW issues into a Cabinet-level agency, upgrading the functions of the present Philippine Overseas Employment Authority.