DFA sets voluntary repatriation in Gaza | Global News

DFA sets voluntary repatriation in Gaza

DFA sets voluntary repatriation in Gaza

A neighborhood in Gaza City hit by an Israeli airstrike lies in rubble, Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023. Israel has launched intense airstrikes in Gaza after the territory’s militant rulers carried out an unprecedented attack on Israel Saturday, killing over 1,000 people and taking captives. Hundreds of Palestinians have been killed in the airstrikes. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Embassy in Jordan has recommended the raising of alert level 3 in the Gaza Strip, which calls for voluntary repatriation in the area where 137 Filipinos are living, amid the conflict following terror attacks on Israel by militant group Hamas.

The recommendation to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is in accordance with a four-level alert system covering a critical area — with alert level 1 categorized as a “precautionary phase” and alert level 4 requiring mandatory evacuation.


“The embassy has recommended placing Gaza under alert level 3, meaning voluntary repatriation,” Foreign Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega said at a press briefing in Malacañang on Tuesday, adding that the embassy in Amman, Jordan’s capital, has advisory jurisdiction over Gaza.


But even without an official alert level, more Filipinos in Gaza are requesting repatriation. The DFA on Monday said 25 had sought that option. On Tuesday, more families were requesting repatriation — totaling 38 Filipinos, 17 of whom are minors.

De Vega said the repatriation would be done “as soon as possible,” but he also acknowledged that “it’s a complicated process due to the situation in Gaza.” He said the embassies in Tel Aviv, Cairo, and Amman were working on this.

Travel advisory

In the same briefing, the Department of Migrant Workers officer in charge, Hans Cacdac, said a deployment ban had not been imposed on Israel despite the conflict.

“It takes alert level 3 to hold deployment for all types of workers, alert level 2 for new hires, we are not yet at alert level 2, technically, we do not have a deployment ban yet,” Cacdac said.

Yet, the Philippine Embassy in Tel Aviv on Monday issued a travel advisory recommending that “all travel from the Philippines to Israel be postponed indefinitely, or until such time that the situation has stabilized.”

De Vega said: “We are not telling you not to go. But we are advising you that it’s best, if possible, to postpone them until we are absolutely sure that hostilities have ended because, after all, even the Prime Minister of Israel has said that [they] are in a state of war.”


Unaccounted Filipinos

“So, it’s not normal for somebody who wants to visit a country which is in a state of war. So, it’s not a ban, there’s no ban, but if you could postpone,” De Vega added.

At the Bagong Pilipinas Ngayon press briefing on Monday morning, Israeli Ambassador to the Philippines Ilan Fluss said he talked with his counterpart, Philippine Ambassador to Israel Pedro Laylo, and with his superior, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, about Filipinos reported missing in Israel.

“We know there are seven Filipinos who haven’t been accounted … for, so we also are very much worried about their well-being,” he said.

Fluss said Israeli security forces are analyzing videos in circulation showing Hamas taking hostages and already killing some of them.

“But there is yet no information released on the exact numbers and exact identit[ies]. We know there are more than 100 [who] have been kidnapped,” he said.

In a message to reporters on Tuesday, DFA spokesperson Teresita Daza said the department was investigating one such video, after “a Filipina in the Philippines” contacted the embassy in Tel Aviv and said she recognized her husband in that footage.

Daza said the Philippine Embassy could not verify the man’s identity but nevertheless relayed that matter to Israeli authorities.

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The embassy “considers the report of the wife as compelling,” she said, adding that it is “working with community contacts on his case.”

TAGS: Department of Foreign Affairs, Israel-Gaza war, OFWs in Israel, voluntary repatriation

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