8 OFWs arrive from Israel

    The raging war between the Palestinian militant group Hamas and Israeli forces continues and cessation of hostilities seems nowhere in sight.

     In a press briefing on Friday in Malacañang, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega told reporters that eight Filipinos would arrive today.

    “There are 22 Filipinos in Israel who have indicated that they want to go home. The first batch will be arriving, at government expense, on Oct. 16. There are eight of them,” he said.

     President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. earlier ordered that concerned government agencies find ways to bring the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to safety. There are at least 30,000 OFWs in Israel.

     De Vega said 92 of the 131 Filipinos in Gaza wanted to return to the Philippines.  “That’s over 70 percent and not one has been evacuated because . . . Gaza is under blockade. But we are working on it,” he added.  

    The war started after Hamas launched an attack on Oct. 7 from Gaza Strip.  Three OFWs were confirmed killed in the attack: 32-year-old Angelina Aguirre from Binmaley, Pangasinan; 42-year-old Paul Castelvi from Pampanga; and 49-year-old Loretta Villarin Alacre from Cadiz City, Negros Occidental.

     De Vega said Alacre died in an attack on Oct. 7 at a music festival in a Kibbutz.

    “What we understand is that she was one of the attendees and a lot of people died there,” he said.

    More than 200 people were killed at the music festival usually held during Sukkot, an Israeli holiday commemorating the time Israelites spent in the wilds— in huts of their own after being freed from slavery in Egypt.

    “Her (Alacre’s) family is aware (and) the President is aware. And the Philippine government is, of course, working with the family. The embassy in Israel is in touch with the sisters who are actually in Kuwait for the repatriation of the remains,” de Vega said.

   He said “we are working with our partners, the diplomatic partners, to see if a humanitarian corridor can be opened to allow people to exit through…obviously, if not the border with Israel, through the Rafah border with Kuwait”.

    Once a humanitarian corridor opened, de Vega said the Philippine Embassy in Cairo, Egypt would send a plane to the border to fly all 92 Filipinos to the Philippines.

    De Vega said Indonesia had offered assistance to Filipinos who wanted to leave the West Bank, which is east of Israel, bordering Jordan.

   De Vega said the Department of Migrant Workers (headed by Undersecretary Hans Leo J. Cacdac, officer-in-charge) and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (with Arnell Ignacio, as administrator) would shoulder the Filipinos’ travel expenses.

   “Once they arrive, they’ll be given proper assistance – the usual reintegration and other assistance packages provided by the DMW  and OWWA,” de Vega said. “And, of course, that includes the usual ayuda (financial assistance).”

    There were still flights going in and out of Israel, but it was not advisable for Filipinos to travel to the country at this time, adding evacuating Filipino nationals from Israel was not a problem “because the situation there is more stable . . . we’re ready to repatriate them because we don’t expect big numbers”, de Vega also said.

    Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro said the Armed Forces of the Philippines was ready to repatriate Filipinos in Israel and he was awaiting guidance from President Marcos on how to implement voluntary repatriation.

    Speaker Martin Romualdez and his wife, Tingog Party-list Rep. Yeddah Romualdez, extended personal donations of P500,000 to each family of Filipinos killed by Hamas.

   Meanwhile, the Philippine Red Cross expressed its condolences to the families of five humanitarian workers killed in Israel and Gaza.

   PRC Chair Richard Gordon said humanitarian workers from the International Red Cross and Red Crescent sacrificed their lives in the line of duty.

What is your reaction?

In Love
Not Sure

You may also like

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *