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Recto seeks more funds for PH embassies in war-threatened countries like South Korea

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Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto on Sunday urged the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to set up contingency or quick reaction funds that Filipinos could access to get out of critical situations overseas.

“Contingencies must be arranged not after but before an emergency. There should be provisions for havens and secure escape routes. Our foreign posts must be given the capacity to make the arrangements. Hindi lang hanggang plano at advisories,” he said.

Recto noted that the government should hike the proposed budget of the Philippine Embassy in Seoul, South Korea amid tension in the region amid North Korea’s plan to attack Guam.

Seoul is located 35 miles from its border with North Korea.

For 2018, the Seoul embassy has a proposed budget of P109 million or about $2 million in one of the world’s most expensive cities.

“Peace time pa lang, kulang na ito dahil sa dami ng mga Pilipino doon. Ano pa kaya kung may crisis na?” he asked.

An increased budget for the country’s embassy in Seoul was justified as Filipino workers there currently send about P1 billion a month in remittances or a total of P28 billion in three years.

“Sa bawat P100 na padala nila, ang sukli ng pamahalaan sa pamamagitan ng consular services and aid ay P1 lamang,” he said.

Currently, the DFA’s assistance to nationals (ATN) fund in diplomatic offices in danger or endangered areas is only P400 million for all posts worldwide.

“It’s not enough,” Recto said.

“The operating budget of these embassies and consulates must be augmented. When there is a crisis to prepare for, their resources must be increased,” he added.