The Philippines has temporarily suspended the deployment of Filipino workers to Israel, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III confirmed on Thursday, May 20.
Bello confirmed this a day after Israel said it was not setting a timeframe for an end to hostilities with Gaza.
“The actual deployment is temporarily suspended, but there is no ban,” Bello told Rappler.
“We are merely suspending their actual departure while the tension is still high,” he said in a later statement.
The Philippines’ deployment suspension initially affected 400 caregivers who were bound for Israel.
Bello said that applications for deployment are still ongoing. He asked for the understanding of caregivers and health care workers.
“Ang pakiusap ko pa sa ating mga paalis na caregivers at health care workers ay ipagpaliban ng ilang araw ang kanilang biyahe upang hindi sila mapahamak (We’re requesting our outbound caregivers and health care workers to postpone their travel for a few days so they would not be in danger),” Bello said.
“It will just be about a few days of delay. We just want to be sure they will be safe,” he added.
The Philippines had expressed serious concerns over the Israel-Gaza clashes and called on parties to de-escalate tensions. The Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs earlier said that it had yet to receive reports of any Filipino casualties.
There are an estimated 30,000 Filipinos in Israel.
Jerusalem is at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel claims the whole city, including its eastern sector captured in a 1967 war, as its capital. Palestinians seek to make East Jerusalem the capital of a future Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.
The violence followed weeks of tension in Jerusalem during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, with clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters in and around the Al-Aqsa Mosque. – with a report from Reuters/Rappler.com