MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) wants to make sure that the ceasefire will remain before it decides to lift the deployment ban in Israel.
“We want to be able to observe whether this ceasefire is sustainable before we lift that ban,” said Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario.
The labor department said the ban only covers new hires. Workers who went on vacation to the Philippines will still be allowed to return to southern and central Israel cities and towns of Sderot, Beersheva, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
“We declared a crisis level 2 in central and southern Israel. They were vulnerable to rockets from Gaza,” said del Rosario.
On Wednesday, Israeli Ambassador Menashe Bar-On, in a meeting with DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers' Affairs Jesus Yabes, said the security situation in his country has improved since its ceasefire with the Palestinian Hamas group.
“I expressed my concerns to the Honorable Undersecretary to reconsider the enforcement of the deployment ban,” he said in a statement. “I hope that within days, the ban will be lifted for the benefit of the Israeli employers and the Filipino workers.”
But del Rosario said it may not happen sooner than expected.
“Probably not this week. We would like to observe and see how it goes,” he said.
The DFA head said the rapid response team deployed there have laid down contingency plans and mapping of where Filipinos are.
“So we know where they are. We know how to contact them,” he said.
Around a hundred Filipinos, most of them married to Palestinians, are currently in living in Gaza.
“Not all of them wanted to go out. There was a time some people wanted to come back to the Philippines. Others wanted to just relocate to Egypt and once situation clears they would go back in,” he said.
But del Rosario said that since the ceasefire took effect “they all changed their minds. Nobody wants to go”.
“We look forward to the day when Palestine is able to have peaceful relations with its neighbors. They have this vote on Palestine being in observer status state in the UN and we voted for that,” said del Rosario.