The government has sufficient funds to repatriate Filipinos from the Middle East in the midst of escalating tension between the U.S. and Iran, said Wednesday a Budget and Management Department official.
Advertising Budget Assistant Secretary Rolando Toledo said that $1.8 billion was earmarked for repatriation in the 2020 national budget.
Toledo has also said that the government has a contingency fund worth 13 billion.
He has already directed the evacuation of Filipinos living in Iraq, where Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani was killed by a U.S. drone strike last week.
Tehran vowed to retaliate for the murder.
Iran fired rockets at an al-Asad airbase in Iraq on Wednesday, hosting U.S. forces, hours after Soleimani’s funeral.
President Rodrigo Duterte previously directed Abdullah Mamao, presidential adviser on Filipino Overseas Workers, to go to Iran and Iraq to convey the “friendly caution” of the President to the governments of Iran and Iraq, not to the Filipinos.
The president also suggested that Congress should deliberate on a plan to respond quickly to a possible war in the Gulf region.
Duterte wants to set up a standby fund for easier disbursement if war breaks out, saying that reputable individuals should manage the money to prevent corruption.