Middle East Unpreparedness Team
IN DECEMBER 2002, or a decade go, when the US invasion of Iraq was imminent, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo organized the Philippine Middle East Preparedness Committee under Executive Order No. 159. Its functions though went beyond the Iraq crisis, and was based on the appreciation of the fact that more than a million of our citizens were working in Middle East countries, which for various reasons (as in the case of the Iraq war) could suddenly become a hostile place for them.
She gave the committee enormous powers, and its main function is exactly, eerily, what is needed now: “[It] shall, in relation with the critical developments in the Middle East, prepare the appropriate responses, formulate policies, develop modes for coordination, put into effect all plans approved by the President and monitor their implementation accordingly, in coordination with the Department of Foreign Affairs.”