MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte hastasked the Armed Forces of the Philippines to prepare its aircraft and ships inthe event of a possible evacuation of Filipinos if tensions escalate betweenUnited States and Iran. The crisis alert level for all areas inIraq is currently on Alert Level 3, which prescribes for voluntaryrepatriation. The Iraqi Kurdistan region, however, remains under Alert Level 1,which is a precautionary phase. In a separate statement, the Departmentof National Defense said the President has tasked the AFP to prepare its airand naval assets to evacuate and bring home our countrymen if and when open hostilitieserupt in the Middle East that may endanger their lives. “Inalertoniya ang Sandatahang Lakas na lahatng assets that can be utilized for the evacuation of our countrymen ay ihanda nila,” PresidentialSpokesperson Salvador Panelo said. “Paraany time na may hostilities that willimperil the lives of our countrymen, i-evacuatenatin ang ating mga kababayan.” Iran condemned Donald Trump on Sunday asa “terrorist in a suit” after the US president threatened to hit 52Iranian sites hard if Tehran attacks Americans or US assets in retaliation forthe killing of Soleimani./PN Based on the data from the Department ofForeign Affairs, there are 1,600 and 6,000 Filipinos currently working andresiding in Iran and Iraq, respectively. Duterte issued the order during anemergency meeting with Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and officials of themilitary and police in Malacañang Sunday night. Downtown Tehran was brought to a standstill Monday as mourners flooded the Iranian capital to pay an emotional homage to Qasem Soleimani, the “heroic” general killed in a US strike. Official Khamenei website/Handout via Reuters Tensions escalated between the UnitedStates and Iran following a US drone strike killed military commander Qassem Soleimaniin Baghdad on Friday. The DFA have earlier advised Filipinosto cancel all travel to Iraq as tensions escalate in the region, whileFilipinos in Iraq were also “strongly advised” to coordinate closely with thePhilippine embassy and their employers in the event that mandatory evacuationwould be necessary.