Press Release
August 2, 2010


Senator Ramon Bong Revilla Jr. called on the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to ensure the humane repatriation of children of Israel-based Overseas Filipino Workers after the Israeli government approved a new residency criterion where children of migrant workers will be deported.

The senator expressed sadness after the Israeli government decided to deport children of migrant workers in a bid to clear up the status of thousands of foreign workers in Israel . "We have no choice but to respect the decision of the Isareli government. What we could do is to ensure that their repatriation will be done in the most humane way," Bong Revilla said.

He stressed that the DFA must not wait for zero-hour before they act. "They must make a clear repatriation plan to make sure that there will be no problems and no affected OFW and children will be left behind," he said.

Under the decision, children of migrant workers who have lived in the country for more than five years and who speak Hebrew will be allowed to remain in the country with permanent residency permits. Others will be deported to their home countries along with their families. The Hotline for Migrant Workers, an Israeli advocacy group, estimates 700 of 1,200 school-age children are at risk of deportation, along with their parents.

The lawmaker appealed to DFA Secretary Alberto Romulo and the Philippine Embassy to Israel to make appropriate representations to the Israeli government to guarantee the convenient repatriation of the affected OFWs and their children. He stressed that the repatriation must be conducted as soon as possible. "We must uphold the right of the OFWs' children. Every Filipino child has the right to the care, assistance and protection of the State," he pointed out.

He also urged Israel-based OFWs who will be repatriated along with their children to make use of the programs of the government under the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA). "If they can not go back to Israel to continue their employment, they can avail of the livelihood program of OWWA," Bong Revilla suggested.

Based on news reports, there are about 200,000 migrant workers in Israel , mostly from the Philippines , China and Africa . About half have overstayed their visas, thousands for many years. Many have children who were born in Israel and know no other home. It is also estimated that about 60,000 Filipinos are living in Israel , concentrated in the northern and central part of that country. Most of them are working as caregivers.

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