MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Saturday, December 1, said it will keep its ban on deploying new Filipino workers to Israel despite calls to do otherwise.
In a statement, the DFA said it “takes exception” to the Israeli ambassador to the Philippines’ statement “criticizing the Philippine government’s decision.”
“The Philippine government has the sovereign duty and prerogative to protect all its nationals wherever they may be, especially those caught in conflict areas. No other state can substitute its judgment over that of the Philippine government regarding the welfare of its own nationals,” the DFA said.
Israeli ambassador to the Philippines Menashe Bar-On on Thursday, November 29, said he hopes the Philippine government will reconsider its deployment ban. “I hope that within days, the ban will be lifted for the benefit of the Israeli employers and the Filipino workers,” Bar-On said.
The DFA has implemented the deployment ban – at alert level 2, or restriction phase, for central and southern Israel – since November 20. This means the suspension of the deployment of new hires to Israel.
For Gaza, the agency has mandated alert level 4, which means evacuation or mandatory repatriation.
The DFA has also issued a travel advisory warning against tours to Gaza, and urging the deferment of travel to southern and central Israel. The agency said there is no travel ban on Israel, but urged travelers to take the necessary precaution.
“The Philippine government welcomes the ceasefire in Gaza and hopes that this will usher in lasting peace and stability there. In due time, the alert level for Israel and Gaza may be reviewed if the ceasefire continues to hold,” the DFA said.
Meanwhile, during a peace rally on Friday, November 30, Bar-On said the Israeli government is “supporting any petition which can support the peace process.”
In an earlier interview on Rappler’s #TalkThursday, Bar-On said Israel wants peace “as much as other countries in the world.” (Watch more in the video below.)