DFA confirms 3rd Filipino death in Hamas attacks
Another Filipino caregiver was killed in the conflict in Israel that followed the Oct. 7 coordinated attacks by Hamas militants.
This raises to three the number of Filipinos who died in the fighting, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) reported on Friday.
“I regret to inform you that, yes, it is confirmed there is a third Filipino casualty, a 49-year-old woman from Negros Occidental,” Foreign Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega said at a briefing in Malacañang, adding that she was among those who attended the ill-fated Tribe of Nova Music Festival near the Gaza border.
Hamas gunmen reportedly killed some 260 people at the festival as the militants launched their attacks that Saturday.
The DFA official did not identify the victim, but in Cadiz City, Negros Occidental, the family of Loreta Villarin Alacre, a caregiver in Israel, has reported that she had been missing since Oct. 7.
De Vega said the Philippine Embassy in Tel Aviv is coordinating with the victim’s sisters, who are in Kuwait, for the repatriation of her remains.
He said there were three more missing Filipinos since last week. “So possibly, these three will still show up. We hope,” De Vega said.
Intention to leave
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has ordered an exit plan for Filipinos in Israel and neighboring Gaza, the Hamas stronghold relentlessly pounded by Israel since the Oct. 7 attacks.
De Vega said the President’s immediate concern was to repatriate Filipinos in critical areas in Israel, because “nobody right now can get in or out of Gaza, so repatriation, of course, is not yet possible at this time.”
He said the Philippines would be waiting for the “humanitarian corridors” to open in Gaza.There are about 30,000 Filipinos in Israel and 131 in Gaza, of whom 92 have already expressed their intention to leave, according to the DFA.
The two earlier reported fatalities were caregivers Paul Vincent Castelvi, 42, of Pampanga province, and Angelyn Peralta Aguirre, 33, of Pangasinan province.
They were both reported killed by Hamas militants under similar circumstances—they accompanied their elderly patients as they sought refuge in bomb shelters.
Castelvi was killed on Saturday morning and Aguirre, before dusk.
Had Castelvi been spared from the tragedy of the Hamas attacks, he and his wife, Jobelle, would be proud parents, since she was expected to deliver their first child in November.
In a phone interview on Friday, Castelvi’s sister, Cherrywin Tumang, said Castelvi was planning to come home in December, a month after the expected firstborn.
Last phone call
Castelvi, who hailed from Juliana village in the city of San Fernando, had been working in Israel since 2018 upon the recommendation of his wife.
Jobelle said they talked for the last time that Saturday morning when he and his 65-year-old patient were among those taken hostage. Their conversation ended abruptly and it was the last she heard from him.
Tumang said Jobelle is having difficulty coping with what had happened. She said “We are very concerned about Jobelle’s well-being. She is pregnant and she is trying very hard to be strong. We are praying for her and their unborn child’s safety.”
The third of four children, Castelvi talked with his mother and siblings on Oct. 2, Oct. 3, and for the last time on Oct. 6.
“He talked to us for several hours and told us about his plans for the future. He was the best. He always thought about our parents and his family, never about himself. He was our family’s breadwinner,” Tumang said.
She expressed gratitude to San Fernando Mayor Vilma Caluag for hiring her and her brother, the eldest of the Castelvi siblings.
“We are very thankful to our mayor. When she visited us, we asked her to help us get employed so we can take over Paul’s role as the family breadwinners. She readily agreed and asked us to prepare our résumés, and someone from City Hall already picked them up this morning and told us to report next week,” she said. INQ