Israel-Hamas war

Marcos says second Filipino hostage in Gaza freed by Hamas

Dwight de Leon

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Marcos says second Filipino hostage in Gaza freed by Hamas

FREED. Filipino migrant Noralyn Babadilla was freed by Hamas militants, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. confirms on November 28, 2023.

Marcos' X account via The Jerusalem Post

(2nd UPDATE) With the release of Noralyn Babadilla, Marcos says all Filipinos affected by the conflict between Israel and Hamas fighters have been accounted for

MANILA, Philippines – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said Noralyn Babadilla – the last Filipino whose whereabouts were previously unknown – has been released by the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

Marcos says second Filipino hostage in Gaza freed by Hamas

“I am very happy to announce that Noralyn is safely back in Israel, becoming the second Filipino released from Gaza,” Marcos announced on X, previously known as Twitter, on Wednesday morning, November 29.

“With this positive development, I am pleased to inform the nation that all Filipinos affected by the war have been accounted for,” he added.

Marcos guaranteed that embassy officials in Tel Aviv will attend to Babadilla’s needs, in coordination with Israeli authorities.

The news came days after the Philippine government confirmed that Filipino caregiver Jimmy Pacheco was among the two dozen hostages freed by Hamas fighters on their first day of truce with the Israeli government.

The Israel Embassy in Manila, in a separate statement, said Babadilla was undergoing medical check-ups at the Tel HaShomer Hospital in Israel. 

The embassy said Babadilla, who is also an Israel citizen, was visiting friends in Kibbutz Nirim on October 7, along with her partner Gidon Babani. Babani was killed, while Babadilla was brought to Gaza by Hamas, said the embassy. 

Israel estimates that some 150 more people are still being held captive in Gaza. “The Israeli government is committed and will do whatever is needed to bring them back home,” the embassy added. 

In a statement, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Spokesperson Teresita Daza thanked the State of Qatar, which had mediated in the release of both Babadilla and Pacheco.

Daza also thanked Israel for “agreeing to the conditions which facilitated the release of more hostages.” 

The DFA also recognized the role of Egypt, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and other international organizations in the safe release of those previously held captive in Gaza. 

“We remain committed to looking after the welfare of Filipinos affected by the ongoing conflict, and share the hope for the eventual cessation of all hostilities in the region,” she added. 

Originally, six Filipinos were unaccounted for following the October 7 surprise Hamas attack in Israel. Four of them were later confirmed to have been among the 1,200 people – mostly civilians – killed.

That offensive by Hamas prompted a two-month bombardment by Israel in Palestine-occupied territories, leaving 14,000 people dead, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

Independent experts at the United Nations have said that the root causes of the conflict include the 56-year occupation by Israel of Palestinian territories. – with reports from Bea Cupin/Rappler.com

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Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the Malacañang, and the Commission on Elections for Rappler.