THE Budget department on Wednesday said funds are in place for the evacuation of Filipinos in the Middle East amid ongoing tensions between the US and Iran.

At least three agencies have P1.9 billion in emergency funds for the repatriation, Budget Assistant Secretary Rolando U. Toledo said at a briefing.

The official said P1.29 billion will come from the Foreign Affairs department, P100 million from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration budget and another P500 million from the OWWA fund, which is made up of contributions from Filipino workers overseas.

The government can use P13 billion in contingency fund from this year’s national budget, Mr. Toledo said.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte this week said he might ask Congress to convene in a special session to discuss the budget for the repatriation of Filipinos in Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries.

Meanwhile, Labor Secretary Silvestre M. Bello III Mr. said the agency was working on “alternative markets” in case the more than two million Filipino workers in the Middle East are forced to come home. These countries include China, Russia, Canada, Germany and Japan.

“That is the reason why we also came out with a profile of overseas worker there,” the Labor chief said. “We know where to deploy them.” — Vann Marlo M. Villegas