MANILA- The Philippines might charter a cruise ship to help evacuate Filipinos in Iran and Iraq as the government continued the humanitarian mission despite de-escalating tensions between Washington and Tehran, a Cabinet official said Friday.
"Ang napag-usapan namin sa Gabinete, if needed, we might have to charter a cruise vessel para mas malaki," Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles told reporters in Malacañang Friday.
(The Cabinet has discussed that we might need to charter a cruise vessel since it's bigger.)
Government offices are working "double time" to quickly evacuate Filipinos from the 2 Middle East countries, he added.
Manila is continuing its efforts to evacuate its people in Tehran, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said even as tensions between Iran and United States simmered down.
Iran said it had concluded its "proportionate" retaliation against the US after launching 22 ballistic missiles against Iraqi bases that hosted American and foreign troops on Wednesday.
The attack was a calibrated response to the killing of a top Iranian general in a US airstrike on Jan. 3.
"Tuloy pa rin 'yung mandatory repatriation natin kasi better safe for everybody," Nograles said.
(The mandatory repatriation will continue to ensure the safety of everyone.)
He added that the government has earmarked an initial P100 million for the evacuation of Filipinos in Iran and Iraq.
The government has eyed Qatar as a transit point for evacuating Filipinos.