DFA tells Filipinos to cancel travel plans to Iraq amid tensions with US

By CNN Philippines Staff

The Department of Foreign Affairs has called on Filipinos to avoid going to Iraq “until further notice,” amid the country’s growing tensions with the US due to the killing of a top Iranian general.

“The Department of Foreign Affairs calls on all Filipinos to cancel, until further notice, any travel to Iraq in view of the current situation in the country,” it said Friday.

The agency also advised Filipinos in Iraq to coordinate with the Philippine Embassy and their employers in case there is a need for a mandatory evacuation.

The DFA said the crisis alert level for all areas in Iraq is currently in Alert Level 3 or voluntary repatriation, except in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region which is still under Level 1 or the precautionary phase. There is also an existing ban on deployment of new workers and household workers to Iraq, it added.

There are currently 1,190 documented and 450 undocumented Filipinos in Iraq, according to DFA which cited the Embassy’s latest figures. More than half are in the Kurdistan region while 847 are in the Baghdad area. Most of those in Baghdad are working with US and other foreign facilities, while others are in regular commercial establishments, particularly in Erbil.

This development comes after a US drone strike ordered by US President Donald Trump killed top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani at the Baghdad airport. The attack also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of the Iran-backed Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces.

Bangsamoro Member of Parliament Zia Adiong condemned the incident.

“Both died in the most horrific, unjustified drone missile attack ever carried by a foreign country in recent years which violates every single, broadly accepted international law that upholds and respects the independence of a sovereign state,” said Adiong.

Trump’s administration blames Soleimani for the killing of hundreds of Americans in several attacks in recent months. After news of Soleimani’s death surfaced, Trump tweeted that the Iranian official “should have been taken out many years ago.” He added that he ordered the drone strike to “stop a war” not to start one.

Adiong contested this.

“The attack was meant not to kill these men alone but to spark a war in the Persian Gulf at a time when a US sitting President is battling his defense before an impeachment court back home impacting on his chances to secure a second term of office,” he said.

Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has since vowed “harsh revenge” following the incident.

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