OVERSEAS FILIPINO WORKERS (OFWs) in the Middle East have urged the Philippine government to prepare in the event that the Middle East conflict escalates amid reports that the US-Saudi-led coalition is preparing to penetrate Syria.

“We can’t simply dismiss and undermine the impact of the Middle East conflict -that is when the US-Saudi-led coalition started penetrating Syria amid pronouncement by Russia that it will help Syria against any foreign attack. Many believe it may trigger World War III scenario that nations of the world would not want to happen,” said John Leonard Monterona, an OFW leader in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Monterona said that “it would be prudent for the Philippine government through its Foreign Affairs department to keep a close eye in the Middle East conflict.”

In a statement, Monterona added that there is need for the government to come up an honest-to-goodness assessment on the general peace and order situation in the Middle East and develop a preparedness plan including evacuation and repatriation of Filipinos living and working in the Middle East.

He also urged President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to reactivate the now defunct Presidential Middle East Preparedness Committee (PMEPC), which was created pursuant to Executive Order (EO) No. 6 dated September 2, 2010.

The PMEPC’s operation was extended until June 30, 2011 by virtue of Aquino’s EO No. 20.

“The PMEPC, headed then by Special Envoy Roy A. Cimatu, is tasked to primarily provide continuing assistance to the Department of Foreign Affairs, as well as other government agencies concerned with OFW safety, security, and protection, and in the formulation of policies, plans, and modes of coordination in areas where there are significant presence of OFWs,” Monterona said.

Monterona added that once reactivated the PMEPC that will be based in the Midde East will provide good insights to the DFA especially that DFA chief Albert del Rosario is retiring by March 2016.

“By now, we are expecting that the Philippine government have its assessment on the Middle East conflict. Based on this assessment, a comprehensive preparedness plan, evacuation and repatriation blue print should be in placed,” Monterona said.

There are an estimated 2.1 million OFWs in the Middle East.