The administration of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. is now exhausting all remedies available to start the repatriation of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and the Filipino community amid the ongoing conflict between the Israeli forces and the Palestinian militant group, Hamas.

In a Malacañang briefing on Friday, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Undersecretary Eduardo De Vega said that the President’s immediate concern now is to repatriate the Filipinos affected in the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict.

“[President Marcos] said that the immediate concern is repatriation, but nobody right now can get in or out of Gaza … so, repatriation, of course, is not yet possible at this time,” De Vega told reporters as he emphasized that they updated the chief executive on Wednesday about the situation in Israel.

De Vega noted the Philippine government cannot do anything yet about the situation unless the “humanitarian corridors” are opened.

But he said the administration of President Marcos is already exhausting all diplomatic initiatives to ensure the safety of the Filipino people and to begin the immediate repatriation of the affected Filipinos in Israel.

“So, this is a diplomatic initiative. We are in touch with other governments in the region. Of course, the United Nations will hold a session today, the United Nations Security Council and we expect them to call for a humanitarian corridor to allow civilians to leave,” he added.

De Vega said that Philippine Embassy in Israel along with other embassies are now working double time to ensure the safety and protection of Filipinos there, including working on the repatriation of the affected individuals.

He said there are already 92, or more than 72 percent of the total population of Filipinos in Israel, who signified their intention to get repatriated due to the ongoing conflict.

“As for our kababayan in Israel, there are already some who have indicated that they want to go home – not because they were victimized by the war specifically, but because indirectly, they lost a job or times are hard for them, for economic reasons therefore, obviously aggravated by this conflict,” De Vega said.

He said the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) will shoulder the expenses of the Filipinos who wish to get repatriated from war-torn Israel. |PND

Photo Courtesy of PCO