MANILA - Filipinos working in Israel were told Tuesday to focus on their jobs and not be affected by the issue raised against the Philippine government over its vote backing the UN Human Rights Council's investigation into possible crimes during the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza last month.
Philippine Ambassador Macairog Alberto issued the advisory, a copy of which was posted on the embassy’s official Facebook account, after he was summoned by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“Matapos maiwasan ang mga rocket attacks ng nakaraang buwan, tayo po ay nahaharap sa bagong usapin dahil sa nangyaring botohan sa United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) sa Geneva kamakailan na siyang ikinadismaya ng Israel,” Alberto wrote.
(After evading rocket attacks the past month, we are facing a new issue because of the voting at the UNHRC in Geneva recently to the dismay of Israel.)
“Ang Ambassador sa Permanent Mission ng Pilipinas sa Geneva ay bumoto sa UNHRC, batay sa kanilang pagsusuri ng mga impormasyong kanilang nakalap. Ang Ambassador ng Pilipinas sa Israel, bilang representante ng gobyerno, ay syang humarap sa mga opisyal ng gobyerno ng Israel upang linawin ang usaping ito,” he added.
(The Ambassador of the Philippines Permanent Mission in Geneva voted at the UNHRC based on their assessment of information they have gathered. The Ambassador of the Philippines in Israel, as the government’s representative, faced officials of the Israeli government to clear up the matter.)
In a statement on Sunday, the Israel foreign ministry said Alberto was summoned for a clarification discussion over the Philippines’ vote in favor of the establishment of an investigative committee against Israel over events surrounding “Operation Guardian of the Walls.”
“It is unacceptable that a country like the Philippines, which itself endures radical and murderous Islamist terrorism in the south of the country, would support a draft resolution that ignores the Hamas terrorist organization’s war crimes,” Gilad Cohen, the ministry’s Deputy Director General for the Asia-Pacific, said in the statement.
“Israel expects friends such as the Philippines not to support proposals that strengthen terrorism, and to stand by us during this time,” he added.
Alberto said while the two governments continue their efforts to enhance bilateral relations, the issue is multilateral that goes past the level of the embassy.
“Hinihikayat ang lahat ng OFWs sa Israel na huwag magpaapekto sa usaping ito at mag-focus sa trabaho,” the envoy said.
“Patuloy nating ipakita ang galing ng isang manggagawang Pilipino,” he added.
(All OFWs in Israel are advised not to be affected by this issue and focus on their jobs. Let us continue to show how great Filipino workers are.)
Israel hosts some 30,000 OFWs, most of whom are domestic workers, according to Hans Leo Cacdac, head of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.
He said there were 300 Filipinos in Israel's Ashkelon and Ashdod cities, and another 100 in Gaza Strip, where the fighting in May was concentrated.
Alberto said the embassy will continue to look after the welfare of OFWs there and ensure the good relations of the Philippines and Israel.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet had said Israel's deadly strikes on Gaza may constitute war crimes, and that the Hamas Islamist group had also violated international humanitarian law by firing rockets into Israel.
Some 270 Palestinians and 10 Israelis died in the exchange of missiles between the two nations this month, Bachelet said.
Israel and the two main armed groups in Gaza agreed to a ceasefire last week, ending 11 days of deadly violence.