Press Release
October 16, 2023

Senator Mark Villar Urges Philippine Government to Exhaust All Means to Secure Filipinos' Safety Amid Israel-Palestine Conflict

Senator Mark A. Villar expresses his utmost concern regarding the safety of Filipino migrants in the areas of conflict, particularly Israel and Gaza.

"In times of conflict, our priority should be the safety of our people. I am urging all concerned government agencies of the Philippine government to exhaust all available means to secure the safety of Filipinos in the affected areas of conflict," Senator Mark Villar said.

Currently, the DFA already raised the conflict to Alert Level 4 over Israel and the Gaza Strip due to the heightened airstrikes and a deepening crisis. This level signifies the mandatory evacuation of Filipinos from the areas. However, DFA Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega stated that the "mandatory evacuation" does not mean that they can help Filipinos inside the area as there is "no way in and no way out" of Gaza because of the complete siege of the area, but they are ready to do so once opportunity permits.

"Considering this pronouncement from the DFA that there is no way in and no way out, it should still be our utmost priority to heed the call for help of the Filipinos in Israel and the Gaza Strip. Let us exhaust all diplomatic means possible to have our resources be readily available for the affected Filipinos so that we could help them as soon as the situation permits. Huwag po nating pabayaan ang ating mga kababayan sa Israel at Gaza," Senator Mark added.

The DFA reported that there are two Filipinos killed amid the fighting between Israel and Hamas-- one is a 42-year-old male from Pampanga who got abducted by Hamas and the other is a 33-year-old female from Pangasinan. The Philippine Embassy in Tel Aviv reports another Filipino killed as the conflict intensifies.

"These reported deaths of Filipinos are enough for us to consider the conflict as an urgent concern for our countrymen in the areas of conflict. I am urging the Philippine government to utilize all available means and resources to locate the missing Filipinos, safely repatriate all affected Filipinos, and exhaust all available diplomatic channels for the release of abducted Filipinos, particularly those sealed off in the enclave," Senator Mark said.

"Nananawagan din po ako sa ating mga kababayan sa Gaza to first prioritize your safety and direct all efforts on safely leaving the area of conflict. Gagawin po ng ating government ang lahat to safely extract all of you from the situation," Senator Mark added.

At present, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) reports that there are over 30,000 Filipinos residing and working in Israel while there are 150 Filipinos in the Gaza Strip. The agency also recorded at least 92 Filipinos in the Gaza Strip who signified their intention to be repatriated. Further, the Philippine Embassy in Tel Aviv has received reports of Filipinos allegedly kidnapped by Hamas while others remain missing and unreachable through their mobile numbers and social media accounts.

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