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The new body takes the place of the Presidential Middle East Preparedness Committee (PMEPC) formed by former President Gloria Arroyo to deal with the evacuation of thousands of Filipino workers in the Middle East at the height of the Iraq crisis.
Ochoa said the recent natural disasters that struck Japan and New Zealand and the political unrest in countries in the Middle East and North Africa underscored the need to expand the scope of the PMEPC and integrate agency policy plans for swift government response.