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Deployment to Israel still a no-go

Deployment of Filipino workers to Israel remains suspended until the safety of Filipino workers is assured by Israel government despite a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas after 11 days of fighting,  Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said.

Bello issued the statement after the Israeli government reportedly sought out the Philippine government to lift the deployment ban for overseas Filipino workers as it needs 5,000 health and hotel workers.

“The moment our OFWs are safe,  I will immediately issue the order deploying them and they are very much needed,” Bello said.

On May 20, the Department of Labor and Employment temporarily stopped sending Filipinos to work in Israel because of the conflict.

Meanwhile, Malacañang expressed hope Thursday that the Philippines’ vote favoring the United Nations Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) investigation into alleged human rights violations and abuses in Gaza would not hurt the country’s “excellent” bilateral ties with Israel.

“The vote at the UN Human Rights Council does not in any way or should not in any way affect our excellent bilateral relations with Israel,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.

Roque issued the statement after the Israeli Foreign Ministry summoned Philippine Ambassador to Tel Aviv Macairog Alberto to clarify the vote.

On May 27, the UNHRC adopted a resolution establishing an investigation into alleged violations surrounding the latest Gaza violence and the “systematic” abuses in the Palestinian territories and inside Israel.

The Philippines is among the 24 UNHRC state-members that voted in favor of the investigation that prompts an unprecedented level of scrutiny on abuses and their “root causes” in the decades-long Middle East conflict. (See full story online at manilastandard.net)

Roque explained that President Rodrigo Duterte had given the Philippine delegation to the UNHRC the freedom to decide on the issues concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza.

“The President does not micromanage. Because although he is the chief architect of foreign policy, he let our delegation to the UN Human Rights Council to vote on their own,” he said.

Gilad Cohen, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs deputy director general for the Asia-Pacific, said the Philippines’ vote is “unacceptable to Israel, and constitutes a reward for terrorism.”

Meanwhile, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to halt the deployment of Filipino workers to Japan, Philippine Ambassador in Tokyo Jose Laurel V said Thursday.

"As of now they still would like to have Filipinos as caregivers or homemakers for their aging population but due to the pandemic, travelis not yet allowed," the envoy said.

 Foreign nationals from the Philippines and 158 other countries are not yet allowed to enter Japan, except for those in the diplomatic service or unless special permission has been granted.

Laurel said the COVID-19 state of emergency had been raised in Tokyo, Osaka, Hokkaido, Aichi, Kyoto, Hyogo, Okayama, Hiroshima, Fukuoka, and Okinawa as the country continues to record 4-digit daily additional cases.

Meanwhile, he reported that the number of Filipinos infected by the COVID-19 is relatively low, most of whom have already recuperated.

One Filipino, however, died in Tokyo where a total of 56 cases were logged. In Osaka, two of the 82 Filipino cases are currently undergoing treatment while the rest have recovered.

In Nagoya, the envoy said no casualty was reported.

Topics: Silvestre Bello III , Israel , Department of Labor and Employment , UN Human Rights Council
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