70 Filipinos in Gaza seeking repatriation – DFA
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Wednesday said that the 70 Filipinos are seeking repatriation in the Palestinian city of Gaza while there is no request from Filipinos in Israel.
“There are no FIlipinos asking [to be repatriated] so far from Israel, however, we have from Gaza and the number keeps increasing,” Department of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Eduardo De Vega in a Malacañang press conference.
De Vega said that according to Philippine Ambassador to Iran Wilfredo Santos, 70 Filipinos in Gaza — from Tuesday’s 38 — are now seeking repatriation.
“We haven’t repatriated them yet, since as I’ve said, naka-blockade ‘yung Gaza ‘tsaka pati ‘yung kanilang borders both to Israel and Egypt (the Gaza Strip is under blockade, and their borders to both Israel and Egypt are closed),” said De Vega.
“So now it’s a diplomatic approach. We are using diplomacy along with other countries in order to have the borders open, so that we can help our countrymen and women,” he added.
De Vega said that the Filipinos’ Palestinian spouses in Gaza may also be permitted to return to the Philippines with their wives.
“Ang issue is will they be allowed to leave Gaza either by the local officials or ng border, kasi ang kababayan natin, they can feel confident na for humanitarian reasons papayagan sila makaalis dahil hindi sila combatants,” said De Vega.
(The issue is will they be allowed to leave Gaza either by the local officials or at the border, because our countrymen, they can feel confident that for humanitarian reasons they will be allowed to leave because they are not combatants.)
“We are not preventing them from flying home to the Philippines with their [Filipino wives], if we’re able to extract them,” he added.
AFP ready for evacuation
Meanwhile, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the same briefing assured the public that it is ready to conduct evacuation operations should there be a need for it.
“This will be a whole of nation approach, because what is important for us is the safety of our countrymen in the conflict area,” said AFP spokesperson Col. Medel Aguilar.