overseas Filipinos

Philippines urges Filipinos in Gaza to mull repatriation – but how?

Bea Cupin

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

Philippines urges Filipinos in Gaza to mull repatriation – but how?

PATROL. Israeli soldiers patrol the promenade a day after a mass-infiltration by Hamas gunmen from the Gaza Strip into Israel, in Ashkelon, southern Israel October 8, 2023.

Ronen Zvulun/Reuters

(1st UPDATE) The Department of Foreign Affairs says the Philippine government is 'using diplomacy' to help Filipinos and their local spouses and children exit Gaza, which is under a blockade. At least 70 people are seeking repatriation.

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines placed Gaza, a Palestinian territory controlled by the militant Hamas, under Alert Level 3 on Thursday, October 12. 

The alert level means that “the government is calling on Filipinos to consider repatriation on voluntary basis,” explained Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega in a text message to Rappler. It was the Philippine embassy in Amman, Jordan, which has jurisdiction over Gaza, that made the recommendation a few days ago. 

As of October 12, some 70 individuals have said they want to return to the Philippines. They include Filipino nationals and Palestinians who are married to Filipinos, as well as their children. 

While Manila has told its nationals in Gaza to consider coming home, actually getting them home is a different matter. 

“The stumbling block is that Gaza is under a blockade. No one coming in or out. We are using diplomacy to find means to get them the means to exit Gaza,” added De Vega. 

Israel has imposed sanctions on Gaza since it came under the control of Hamas. The strip of land is under land, air, and sea blockade.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has a plan in place to repatriate Filipinos nationals, their children, and their Palestinian spouses once they get the go signal from the government. 

The AFP plans to use the Adana Airport as a “safe haven” as it shuttles nationals and their spouses from Gaza. 

According to the DFA, there are over 200 Filipinos living in and working in the State of Palestine – 137 of whom live in Gaza. Most of these Filipinos in Gaza are women who are married to, and are dependents of, Palestinians.

In its October 11 report, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) said, “Heavy Israeli bombardments from the air, sea, and land have continued almost uninterrupted across the Gaza Strip, demolishing entire sections of neighborhoods. Palestinian armed groups in Gaza continued their indiscriminate rocket firing towards Israeli population centers.”

The UN OCHA also noted that Gaza’s only power plant is out of fuel “triggering an immediate blackout throughout Gaza that continues.” Israel has stopped Gaza’s fuel and power supply since October 8. 

The Israeli embassy in Manila’s Deputy Chief of Mission Esty Buzgan, in a briefing with reporters in Manila, said it was “too early” for talk about a humanitarian corridor – or an agreement that would ensure safe passage for those who want to flee Gaza. 

Lifting the blockade on Gaza is also out of the picture, said Buzgan. “We have to make sure that [there are] no more terrorists entering my country,” she said.

Buzgan pointed out that aside from the border between Israel and Gaza, there is also an option via Egypt. The Philippine embassy in Cairo is also part of discussions and plans to protect Filipinos affected by the war. – Rappler.com 

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

Summarize this article with AI

How does this make you feel?

Download the Rappler App!
Avatar photo


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.