(UPDATE) PRESIDENT Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Wednesday announced the “successful and safe” crossing to Egypt of 40 Filipinos fleeing the Israel-Hamas conflict.
“I am happy to announce that 40 of our compatriots have safely and successfully crossed the Rafah crossing in Egypt. They are now on their way to Cairo, from where they will come to return to our country permanently in the next few days,” the Chief Executive said in Filipino in a video posted on his official Facebook account.
Photo from Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) FB page
Marcos extended his gratitude to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the Philippine Embassy in Israel, and the governments of Jordan and Egypt for facilitating the safe passage of the stranded Filipinos.
“We also thank the governments of Israel and Egypt for their prioritization of our countrymen to get out of their territory. We also recognize the mediation effort of Qatar which was the reason to open the borders of these countries again,” he said.
“I hope the rest of the countrymen who also want to return home will also be able to cross safely, along with their families and loved ones. We will provide further updates regarding these events,” he added.
The President then expressed hope remaining Filipinos in the conflict-torn region would follow suit and cross the border to safety with their families.
To date, the government has brought home a total of 182 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and five infants, a total of six batches so far, since repatriation efforts started on October 18.
Added to these are the remains of three caregivers who were killed during the October 7 attacks.
The repatriates were given financial assistance of P125,000 each from the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda).
Most of at least 134 Filipinos in Gaza, many of whom are married to Palestinians, have sought help to leave the besieged territory and are waiting for an opportunity to leave, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.
Before the war began, about 30,000 Filipinos were living and working in Israel, many as caregivers who look after the elderly, the ill and those with physical disabilities, according to the DFA.
The huge income they send back home has helped keep the country’s fragile economy afloat.
The Philippines is a major source of manual labor worldwide.
WITH THE ASSOCIATED PRESS