MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines appealed to Israel on Wednesday, February 20, to deport overstaying Filipinos in an "orderly and benignant manner," after an Israeli newspaper exposed the impending deportation of dozens of Filipino children and mothers.
In a statement, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said this issue was raised in a meeting on Wednesday between Leslie Baja, the Philippines' foreign assistant secretary for Middle East and African Affairs, and Gilad Cohen, deputy director general at the Israeli foreign ministry.
Baja and Cohen discussed this on the sidelines of annual bilateral consultations between the Philippines and Israel, said the DFA.
"Assistant Secretary Baja requested Director General Cohen, in the spirit of friendly relations between the Philippines and Israel, to treat overstaying Filipinos who need to be repatriated in an orderly and benignant manner, especially since children may be involved," said the DFA.
Sarah Lou Arriola, the Philippines' foreign undersecretary for migrant workers' affairs, said the DFA "stands ready to provide reintegration assistance to all those being repatriated since they are Philippine citizens."
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on Monday, February 18, that Israel is "set to deport dozens of Filipina migrant workers and their children."
Haaretz said that the Population, Immigration, and Border Authority of Israel "has arrested dozens of children and their mothers who are Filipino migrant workers in recent weeks, and has informed them that they will be deported in July or August."
"The children facing deportation were either born in Israel or have spent most of their lives in the country, and Hebrew is their first or only language," the newspaper said.
Haaretz added that while officials "deny any policy change regarding mass deportations," the newspaper's investigation "found that at least 18 mothers and two fathers have been arrested since October ahead of deportation with their children." – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at email@example.com.