Gov’t agencies enjoined to ensure safety of Filipinos in Israel
MANILA, Philippines — Several senators on Sunday enjoined the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and other concerned government agencies to ensure the safety of Filipinos in Israel where Palestinian Islamist group Hamas launched a deadly attack last Saturday.
In separate statements, the senators have condemned the violence committed against innocent civilians in Israel. They also called on DFA and other agencies to secure the safety of Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families and make repatriation possible to interested parties.
“We call upon the Department of Migrant Workers, the Department of Foreign Affairs, and other Philippine government agencies to secure our overseas Filipinos and ensure safe passage if necessary,” Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said.
“We urge the full utilization of the Assistance to Nationals Fund for this purpose. I pray for all who are affected by this conflict- particularly the thousands of our Filipino brothers and sisters. May the LORD cover you all,” Zubiri added.
Senator Grace Poe likewise urged national agencies to ensure the safety of Filipinos, especially near battle zones and affected areas.
“The safety of Filipinos in conflict-stricken Israel is of primordial concern. Concerned government agencies must ensure that our kababayan, especially those living near the battle zones, are moved to secure shelters or halfway houses,” Poe said.
“Repatriation should be calibrated for those who want to go home while the borders are still open […] As we hope for a peaceful resolution of the conflict, we have to act with dispatch so that no Filipinos will be included in the count of casualties,” she added.
Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva said “violence has no place in this world” as he likewise condemned what he called “senseless attacks” of Hamas against Israel.
“Violence has no place in this world and there is certainly no excuse that can justify these inhumane attacks. This kind of violence must end. We stand in solidarity and offer our prayers to the people of Israel during this challenging time,” Villanueva said.
Senator Raffy Tulfo advised OFWs and their families to follow the advisories and reminders of the Israeli government for their safety.
“Gayundin, napakahalaga na sila ay sumunod sa mga abiso at paalala ng mga awtoridad mula sa gobyerno ng Israel. Maliban dito, ay dapat nilang ugaliing sumunod sa mga standard operating procedure kapag tumutunog ang sirena ng pag-alarma sa publiko para masiguro ang kanilang kaligtasan,” Tulfo said.
(Also, it is imperative that they follow the notices and reminders from the Israeli government. They should also practice following standard operating procedures, such as when the public alarm siren sounds to ensure their safety.)
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian also urged DFA, Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to prompt immediate response to secure over 20,000 OFWs in the Middle Eastern country.
“Every effort must be made to provide shelter for all Filipinos caught in the conflict and to facilitate the swift repatriation of our OFWs and their families. It is imperative that we all work together to assist our fellow countrymen who find themselves in the midst of this war and ensure their safe return to their loved ones,” he said.
OWWA keeping an eye
Earlier, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) said it is “closely monitoring” the situation of 24,807 Filipinos in Israel.
OWWA Administrator Arnell Ignacio said Sunday that 200 Filipino workers are based in the Gaza Strip, an area affected by the Hamas militant group’s attack.
To aid these Filipinos, the Department of Migrant Workers had set up a hotline in coordination with OWWA.
Filipinos in Israel and their families in the Philippines may call +63 2 1348 or WhatsApp and Viber numbers +63 9083268344, +63 9271478186, and +639205171059 to ask for help from Philippine authorities.