OFW defies advice to abandon bedridden Israeli employer amid escalating violence

John Gabriel Agcaoili, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 17 2021 08:16 PM | Updated as of May 19 2021 12:17 PM

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MANILA (UPDATED) - Some Filipino caregivers and helpers in Israel have been told to leave their ill employers during a barrage of rockets, as violence between the Middle Eastern state and Palestinian militants continues to escalate.

Manny Costales, a Filipino caregiver in an undisclosed location in Israel, said he was told that he, along with his co-helpers, can leave his bedridden "amo" or employer and run to the nearest bomb shelter as soon as air raid sirens go off.

No less than the employer's children gave him and his co-workers that instruction.

"Ang usapan kasi namin ng mga anak ng amo ko, lalo na 'pag 'yung amo namin mahirap na buhatin, iiwan do'n, kami ang tatakbo sa shelter," he told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo on Monday.

(Our agreement was if our employer is too heavy to carry, we will leave him at home, as we run to the bomb shelter.)

The family reasoned out that his employer is already old, while he and his co-helpers need to be taken care of.

But Costales still won't leave his employer.

"Sa lugar ko, 'di ko po iniwan ni minsan 'yung amo ko (I never left him)," he said.

According to him, plans to evacuate to bomb shelters in Israel vary among households and employers.

The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) earlier in the day said Filipinos in Israel are "safe and sound" in general, even as Gaza militants, known as Hamas, fired rocket after rocket at Israeli cities with no signs of letup.

Most buildings in Israel have bomb shelters, and authorities are evacuating Filipinos in structures that have none of those, said OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac. 

Israel hosts some 30,000 OFWs, most of whom are domestic workers, he said. But there are only 300 Filipinos in the cities of Ashkelon and Ashdod, and another 100 in Gaza Strip, where the fighting is concentrated.

Gaza militants had fired about 60 rockets towards Beersheba and Ashkelon cities overnight, down from 120 and 200 the two previous nights, Israel's military said.

Israeli jets bombed what the military said were 15 kilometers of underground tunnels used by Hamas. It also struck 9 residences belonging to high-ranking Hamas commanders, it said on Monday.

Gaza health officials have put the death toll since the Israel-Palestine hostilities flared at 198, including 58 children and 34 women. 

Ten people have been killed in Israel, including two children, Israeli authorities said.

— With a report from Reuters

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