Government ready to evacuate Filipinos in Gaza-A A +A
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III said the government is ready to evacuate Filipinos who will be affected by the continuing tensions in the Gaza Strip.
In an interview in Cambodia, the President said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has alerted various posts near the conflict-stricken Palestinian City to prepare for evacuation in case violence escalates.
"The post in Egypt, Israel, I think also Jordan, (and) others have been alerted to prepare their own specific contingencies in case these people suddenly decide to leave Gaza," Aquino said during his usual coffee meeting with the Philippine media while in Phnom Penh for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit.
He likewise said that he directed Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario to communicate with the government of Cyprus in case there is a need to repatriate the 41,000 Filipinos living in Israel.
"We just want to be prepared we've touch-based with the Cypriot government in case we will bring our people there as temporary staging area for repatriation in case it gets worse," he said.
President Aquino said Filipinos in Gaza still opted to stay despite tensions due to fear of losing their jobs.
In the Philippines, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte also assured that the government is ready to assist Filipinos and their respective foreign spouses including their children should there be an evacuation.
She said the DFA had already sent two Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) to Cairo, Egypt and Tel Aviv, Israel, to assist Filipinos in Gaza Strip.
The response teams will be on standby to help in the evacuation of 100 Filipinos and their families, if it becomes necessary, she added.
She said the government will be ready to assist Filipinos in Israel if they want to be repatriated.
The two rapid response teams were deployed to do an assessment of the situation in Gaza Strip, as well as to prepare for possible evacuation of the Filipino nationals and their families.
Although there has been no reported casualty among Filipinos in the escalation of violence between the Israeli military and the Palestinian extremist group Hamas based in Gaza, the government prepared contingency plans for their possible evacuation along with their families.
The Philippine embassies in Egypt and Israel -- which border the Gaza Strip -- have already identified possible exit points in coordination with authorities in the areas.
The Cairo RRT is headed by Foreign Affairs Executive Director for Migrant Workers' Affairs Ricardo Endaya, while the Tel Aviv RRT is headed by Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary for Middle East and African Affairs Petronila Garcia. (Jill Beltran/Sunnex)