By Ma. Teresa Montemayor

(File photo)

MANILA – The Philippines has expressed “serious concern” over the increasing tensions between Israel and Iran, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Monday.

This, after Iran fired missiles toward Israel on Sunday, most of which were intercepted.

“We urge all parties to refrain from escalating the situation and to work towards a peaceful resolution of their conflict,” the DFA said in a statement.

“The Philippines has long advocated for all states to adhere to the principles of international law and the peaceful settlement of disputes,’ it added.

According to media reports, Israel is thinking about whether it would retaliate against Iran’s actions.

Iran, on the other hand, justified its move as a response to the Israeli airstrike on the Iranian Consulate building in Syria that killed at least seven officials, including two commanders of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards on April 1.

Assure safety of OFWs in Middle East

Meanwhile, Senators Francis Tolentino and Grace Poe called on the DFA and the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) to protect Filipinos in the Middle East.

In a statement, Tolentino said overseas Filipinos, especially in Israel, need the immediate action of the government to ensure their safety and repatriate them if necessary.

“I would say that at present, the immediate action needed is to determine the number of overseas Filipinos per country in the Middle East, assess the danger where they are now, and determine appropriate action based on their proximity to the place of conflicts,” Tolentino said.

Approximately 2.2 million overseas Filipinos reside in the Middle East, with significant populations in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Qatar, according to the DFA.

In a separate statement, Poe stressed the importance of prioritizing the safety of Filipinos in Israel and Iran, suggesting monitoring, precautions, and potentially issuing a travel advisory.

“The safety of Filipinos in Israel and Iran should be the primordial concern amid the escalating conflict between the two countries. We call on our embassy officers in the two countries to monitor their situation, and ensure utmost precautions about their safety and if necessary, encourage them to restrict their movements to the minimum,” Poe said. (with Wilnard Bacelonia/PNA)