overseas Filipinos

40 Filipinos exit Gaza through Rafah crossing 

Bea Cupin

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40 Filipinos exit Gaza through Rafah crossing 

TRANSPORTED TO SAFETY. The bus used by Filipinos and their family members

Presidential Communications Office

(1st UPDATE) At least one Palestinian is allowed to exit Gaza together with Filipino family members

MANILA, Philippines – Forty Filipinos were finally able to exit Gaza through the Rafah crossing into Egypt, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. confirmed on Wednesday, November 8.

“Sila ngayon ay patungo ng Cairo, kung saan sila magmumula para makauwi nang tuluyan sa ating bansa sa susunod na mga araw (They are currently on their way to Cairo, where they will be coming from before they finally make their way to the Philippines in the coming days),” Marcos said in a video message released by Malacañang.

One Palestinian married to a Filipino was part of the first group of evacuees from Gaza, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Eduardo de Vega confirmed.  

Philippine authorities were still finalizing how many Filipinos remaining in Gaza wish be evacuated but at least 30 Palestinians married to Filipinos had signed up to leave the strip, said De Vega.

“We hope that all will pass security clearance,” he said.

According to a GMA News Online report citing GMA7 reporter Raffy Tima, Filipinos waited around three hours in Gaza before they were allowed to exit and then waited 10 hours for Egyptian authorities to process their papers before they were allowed entry.

The report also said that the first 40 who exited Gaza came from six families and include two pregnant women.

Philippine officials and envoys in Egypt, Israel, and Jordan had been negotiating for weeks to secure some 136 Filipinos living in the Gaza Strip, following Hamas‘ surprise attack on October 7 and the Israel military’s ground operations and unrelenting bombardment of Gaza that had sparked calls for a humanitarian ceasefire.

The United Nations said Gaza, home to over 2.2 million people, has turned into a “graveyard for children.” (READ: TIMELINE: A brief history of Gaza’s 75 years of woe)

In his message, Marcos thanked the governments of Israel and Egypt for “giving priority” to Filipinos in the staggered exit through Rafah crossing. He also thanked Qatar, which had mediated the evacuation agreement. 

“Umaasa akong ang natitirang kababayan na nagnanais ding makauwi ay makakatawid din nang maayos, kasama ang kanilang mga asawa at mahal sa buhay,” Marcos. 

(I expect that the rest of our countrymen who want to come home will be able to cross safely, along with their spouses and loved ones.) 

Israel decides who can leave Gaza. The Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) earlier said Israeli authorities come out with a list of around 500 who are permitted to leave the enclave. From the Palestinian territory, refugees from Gaza then head over to the Egyptian side, where officials process their entry. 

The DFA had said that the Philippines will welcome Palestinians married to Filipinos who are able to exit Gaza. De Vega had said that since early October, Philippine embassies in Egypt and Jordan, which has jurisdiction over the state of Palestine, have been preparing their papers to enter the Philippines.

In a briefing on November 7, De Vega said Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs had told the Philippine embassy in Tel Aviv that Palestinian spouses would be allowed to leave too.

“That will mean it will be easier for our embassy to convince those left to cross the border when their time comes or when they are already called to process,” De Vega said on Tuesday. 

When the first batch of Filipinos from Gaza reach the Philippines, the DFA said they are likely to stay with their relatives. While plans are in place to support their return to the Philippines, De Vega said the government is also prepared for the possibility that these Filipinos would eventually seek to return to the Gaza Strip.

Two Filipino doctors who are part of Médecins Sans Frontiéres, were part of the first group of people allowed to leave Gaza. – Rappler.com 

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.