Vice President Jejomar C. Binay has said that contingency plans are in place to evacuate Filipinos living in Iran in case the nuclear plants in the Middle Eastern country are attacked.
The Vice President, who arrived in the country late Saturday afternoon after attending the 16th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit in Tehran as President Benigno S. Aquino III’s representative, said he was briefed of the contingency plan by Charge d’Affaires Mariano Dumia of the Philippine Embassy in Tehran.
“Before meeting with the Filipino-Iranian community at the embassy, I was given a full briefing by Mr. Dumia on the contingency plan that has been put in place in case the well-publicized threat to attack the nuclear plants of Iran comes to pass,” Binay said.
“The embassy is hoping the plan will never have to be implemented, but in case it becomes necessary, the embassy is prepared to carry it out to protect the security and safety of the more than 3,640 Filipinos in Iran,” he added.
Although Binay said he could not discuss the details of the plan, he expressed his confidence that the plan would work.
“Despite the small skeleton force at the Philippine Embassy in Tehran, we have in Mr. Dumia and his colleagues a dedicated staff who will do everything to serve their country and countrymen at a time of need,” he said.
According to news reports, the United States has plans in place to attack Iran’s nuclear sites if necessary to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons.
Reports say that the U.S and Israel believe Iran is secretly developing nuclear weapons, which Iran has consistently denied saying its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, like energy production.
Meanwhile, Binay said he was able to have “substantive talks” with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi during the first day of the three-day conference and discuss the possibility of increasing Iran’s import of Philippine bananas and opportunities for increased Iranian investments in the Philippines.
“We agreed to encourage our respective chambers of commerce to discuss the various ways and means of engaging in expanded investments and trade. Officers and members of the Iranian Chamber of Commerce may be coming to the Pilippines soon as a result of this initiative,” he said.
The Vice President also said he was given the “unexpected honor” by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of presiding “a good part of the morning session” after he delivered his address to the conference.
Binay said he was also given a personal invitation by Ahmadinejad to make an official visit to Iran at his convenience.
“I take both gestures as a sincere expression of the president’s high esteem and respect for President Aquino and the government and people of the Philippines,” he said.
NAM is a 51-year-old movement of 120 developing countries within the United Nations, of which the Philippines has been a member in good standing since 1991.