AN anti-missile system operates after Iran launched drones and missiles towards Israel, as seen from Ashkelon, Israel, April 14, 2024. — REUTERS

THE PHILIPPINES is “seriously concerned” about worsening tensions between Israel and Iran, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Monday, as it called on both countries to resolve their conflict.

“The Philippines has long advocated for all states to adhere to the principles of international law and to the peaceful settlement of disputes,” it said in a statement.

At the weekend, Iran launched a barrage of missiles and drones at Israel after an Israeli attack on Iran’s consulate in Syria. A seven-year-old girl was hurt in the Iranian strike.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp has said the attack was punishment for “the Zionist entity’s crime” of attacking Iran’s consulate in Syria.

At least four Filipino seamen were among the 25 crew members aboard an Israel-linked commercial ship that Iranian troops seized on April 13, the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) said on Monday.

Also on Monday, Senators urged the DFA and DMW to ensure Filipinos in the Middle East are safe amid the escalating conflict.

“At present, the immediate action needed is to determine the number of overseas Filipinos per country in the Middle East and assess the danger,” Senator Francis N. Tolentino said in a statement.

Senator Mary Grace N. Poe-Llamanzares said state agencies should consider issuing travel advisories against these countries.

“We call on our embassy officers in the two countries to monitor the situation of our countrymen and ensure utmost precautions about their safety and if necessary, encourage them to restrict their movements,” she said in a statement.

There are about 30,000 Filipinos in Israel and 2,000 in Iran, according to the DFA.

Last week, the DFA said 18 Filipino crew members of a crude oil tanker seized by Tehran in the Gulf of Oman on Jan. 11 had returned to the Philippines.

“The recent tension between Israel and Iran is not only a major challenge to West Asian peace, but also to Manila’s interests,” Don McLain Gill, who teaches foreign relations at De La Salle University in Manila, said in a Facebook Messenger chat.

“If the situation escalates further, not only will the lives and welfare of millions of overseas Filipino workers in the region be in jeopardy, but it would also disrupt energy supply chains given Iran’s strategic position in the Persian Gulf.” — John Victor D. Ordoñez