THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Wednesday said it is ready to evacuate Filipinos who were affected by the ongoing war between Israel and Palestinian Islamist group, Hamas.
At a Palace press conference, AFP Spokesman Medel Aguilar said two C-130 and one C-295 aircraft were placed on standby and ready for deployment should the Philippine government need the military to bring home distressed overseas Filipinos in the conflict area.
“I am here to assure everybody that with the guidance of our President, his Excellency Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr., the Armed Forces of the Philippines is prepared to execute evacuation operations should there be a need for that,” the AFP spokesman said.
“We already came out with a plan on how to do it. This will be a whole-of-nation approach because what is important for us is the safety of our countrymen,” he added.
Aguilar said the AFP will send the aircraft to two identified “airports of embarkation” where the overseas Filipinos could gather and be fetched.
These, he said, are the Haifa Airport in Haifa, Israel and Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel.
From there, Aguilar said the Filipinos will be transported to a designated “temporary safe haven” at the Adana Sakirpasa Airport in Adana, Turkey before they are brought home to the Philippines.
“But all of these will only be executed based on the recommendation or instruction coming from other government authorities,” he said.
Authorities confirmed that at least two Filipinos have been killed amid the ongoing conflict between Israeli forces and the Hamas group.
Data from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said that there were more than 30,000 Filipinos in Israel and over 100 in the Gaza Strip.
Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega, meanwhile, said that there are no repatriation requests from Filipinos in Israel as he emphasized that they are now employing a diplomatic approach to allow these Filipinos and their families to cross the borders.