Malacañang supported the decision of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to temporarily suspend the departure of Filipino workers to Israel amid the worst fighting between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants in years.
“Malacañang supports Secretary Bello’s decision to temporarily stop sending OFWs to the Israel in the Middle East due to the intensifying conflict there,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Palace press briefing yesterday.
Bello clarified that there is no deployment ban, saying “the processing of those who already qualified continues.”
He, however, said the departure of Filipino workers bound for Israel is suspended while the tension and violence are still high.
Since the Philippines is already facilitating the emergency repatriation of Filipinos from Israel, Roque said it only made sense to allow the temporarily halt in the departure of workers.
“This is to protect the safety of our countrymen. Of course, as we prepare to evacuate and repatriate our citizens there, why should we send new OFWs there as well?” he added.
Last week, Roque said the Philippine Embassy in Israel and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration are “experts” in ensuring the safety of Filipinos amid the latest escalation of violence in Gaza and Jerusalem.
There are currently around 30,000 Filipinos working and residing in Israel.
No Filipino casualties have been reported amid the escalating exchange of airstrikes and rocket fires between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas, the Department of Foreign Affairs said.
Reports showed that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict intensified after Palestinians faced off nightly with Israeli police in East Jerusalem, who put up barriers to stop evening gatherings at the walled Old City’s Damascus Gate.
Israel and Gaza militants pursued their cross-border attacks in the 11th day with Israeli warplanes carrying out new airstrikes and Palestinians firing more rockets.*PNA