MANILADepartment of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano has met with his counterpart in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to check on the conditions of Filipinos in the Gulf state amid tensions following the series of attempted missile attacks against the Kingdom.
"One-third kasi ng ating overseas Filipino workers, nandito sa Middle East. Naging busy lang kasi tayo last year because tayo ang host ng ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations). Dapat naman talaga, bago mag-Ramadan, I do my introduction tour and meetings with the foreign ministers (A third of our OFWs are here in the Middle East. It's just that we were busy last year because of the hosting of the ASEAN. The introduction tour and meetings with foreign ministers should be done before Ramadan)," Cayetano said in an interview in Riyadh Thursday (Manila time).
On Wednesday, the Saudi Press Agency reported that the Royal Saudi Air Defense Forces intercepted a ballistic missile launched by Al-Houthi rebels, targetting Riyadh.
After arriving in the Middle East, Cayetano said he also received text messages about the attack, as he reiterated the Philippine government's denouncement of the missile launches.
"We've been condemning those attacks against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; we've been condemning violent extremism, terrorism; we've been condemning the use of force to settle disputes," he added.
Meanwhile, Cayetano said he is confident of Saudi Arabia's defense capabilities and protecting their citizens and people.
"Ang Saudi Arabia naman ay kilala sa pagiging handa, and kasama naman ang mga Pilipino sa kanilang contingency plans kung may mga attacks against sa Kingdom. (Saudi Arabia is known for being ready and they have included Filipinos in their contingency plans in case of attacks against the Kingdom.) But I am very confident of their defense capabilities and protecting their citizens and people in KSA," he said. "But of course, we are concerned. All prayers are welcome.
In March, Saudi forces shot down several ballistic missiles but two Egyptians on the ground were killed by falling debris.
Saudi Arabia, which hosts thousands of Filipino workers, has repeatedly been targeted by Houthi rebels fighting a Saudi-led military coalition supporting the internationally recognized government of Yemen President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi.
According to latest figures from the DFA, there are 374,495 Filipinos in Riyadh; 7,850 in Najran; and 15,700 in Jizan, Saudi Arabia. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency