Infant, 22 OFWs arrive Monday from Israel
MANILA, Philippines — A group of 23 Filipinos, including an infant, who were repatriated from Israel is scheduled to return home on Monday, according to the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW).
Meanwhile, the scheduled evacuation of foreigners, including Filipinos, from Gaza has been postponed due to reported fighting by Israeli forces and Hamas militants along the route to Egypt, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Sunday.
The DMW said the 22 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and the baby make up a fifth batch of returning Filipinos from Israel. The department did not provide details about the infant’s gender, age, and parents.
“This brings to 141 OFWs and five infants the total number of returnees, who have come home due to the Israel-Hamas conflict,” said DMW Officer in Charge Hans Leo Cacdac.
Earlier Cacdac said there were a total of 178 requests for repatriation from Israel, where there are an estimated 30,000 Filipinos, the majority of them working as caregivers.
Cacdac will lead senior officials of the government in welcoming the latest arrivals.
Apart from repatriation, other forms of assistance would be made available to the workers, Cacdac said, adding that livelihood assistance would also be offered by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (Owwa).
He said earlier that the DMW will provide overseas employment facilitation assistance to returning OFWs who might want to consider seeking employment in other countries, while the Department of Labor and Employment would offer local employment facilitation services to those who choose to stay and work in the Philippines.
As for the evacuation efforts in Gaza, Foreign Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega said in a television interview that “the evacuation did not push through yesterday, Saturday, because of attacks.”
“There was no exit yesterday. The one scheduled yesterday was moved to today, Sunday. But there were 20 Filipinos scheduled for today, that would also be moved to tomorrow, Monday. I hope there will be no more suspension,” he said, adding that another 26 will make up a second batch of evacuees.
De Vega explained that 115 Filipinos initially wanted to cross the Rafah border, but some of them backed out upon knowing that they could not bring their Palestinian relatives or spouses with them.
“Of the 115, only 46 have signified that they want to cross the Rafah border to evacuate to Egypt,” he said, adding that the Philippine officials are still convincing the Filipinos to leave the war-torn area.
De Vega said earlier that Israel has given all 136 Filipinos in Gaza exit clearances to leave the enclave.
But 38 Palestinians were not allowed to leave with their Filipino spouses.
“So the Filipino spouses need to decide if they will leave them behind or not. It’s better to leave and cross the border now that there is already permission. They can always go back to their Palestinian spouses after the war,” De Vega said.
Nevertheless the Philippine Embassy in Tel Aviv is trying to convince the Israeli government to allow the 38 Palestinians to leave Gaza, he said.
Condolences from Fluss
Also on Sunday, Israeli Ambassador Ilan Fluss traveled to the municipality of Binmaley, Pangasinan province, to offer his condolences to the family of Angelyn Peralta Aguirre, one of four Filipinos who died in the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas militants.
The 32-year-old nurse was among the fatalities in the attacks after she had refused to leave her elderly charge in the Kfar Aza kibbutz in southern Israel.
Fluss and Israeli Consul Moti Cohen personally expressed their sympathies to Aguirre’s family and informed them that the Israeli government will provide benefits and assistance.
“I heard stories about Angelyn from her family and friends. She was a caring and loving person. May her memory be blessed,” Fluss said in a statement.