Press Release
July 24, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today urged the Philippine government to lend its voice in persuading the protagonists in the Israel-Lebanon armed conflict to work for an end to the hostilities which pose a serious threat to world peace and economy.

Pimentel said he will convince the Senate to pass a resolution asking Israel, the Hizbollah group, Lebanon, as well as the United States, Iranian and Syrian governments to take steps to ease the situation.

He called on the Philippine government to strongly support the appeal of the Lebanese government for an immediate ceasefire to prevent the war from escalating. He expressed alarm over a veiled threat of Syria, an ally of Lebanon, to enter the fray if Israel intensifies its attacks on Lebanese territories.

The important thing is that Hizbollah and its patron, Syria, together with Iran, should look for a way to talk with Israel and the American supporters of Israel to allow a safe evacuation of non-combatants and hopefully effect some kind of a truce that will lead to some settlement in the Middle East, the minority leader said.

Pimentel said the Philippines has a big stake in restoring peace in that part of the Middle East because of the sizeable number of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) there and the danger that its oil supply from Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states may be disrupted in case the war spreads.

He cited media accounts of OFWs trapped in the battlezones waving the Filipino flag to be spared from bombardment by either side of the conflict.

It speaks volumes of the kind of reputation of our hardworking and brave workers has been able to propagate for the nation, the senator from Mindanao said.

Describing the situation as a complicated one, Pimentel said there are no easy solutions but it will not come if the bombs will continue to pound Lebanese and Israeli towns. Right now, he said Israeli ground troops are advancing deep into the Lebanese territory.

He decried that Israeli forces seem to be pounding on Lebanese infrastructure and properties without regard to the lives of non-combatants.

The sight of so many hapless men and women and children on television and print media is enough to induce all right-thinking citizens to cry out to the heavens to please stop this carnage being inflicted on the people of Lebanon, he said.

In the process, Pimentel said thousands of Filipino workers in Lebanon, Israel and other parts of the Middle East are adversely affected.

Unless the situation in the Middle East is eased, it is going to affect the deployment of our overseas workers. There is no way by which the other countries in the Middle East, which are not directly involved in the war, could absorb even the Filipinos who are evacuating from Lebanon. Obviously the situation will not be for the benefit of our people, he said.

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