Manila [Philippines], May 21 (ANI): Philippines on Friday suspended deployment of Filipino health care workers (HCWs) to Israel because of the escalation of fighting between the Israeli army and militant Palestinians.
Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE), Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd on Thursday clarified there is no ban in the deployment of Filipino workers to Israel. Only the departure of about 400 HCWs, majority of them caregivers, was stopped, Bello said, reported The Manila Times.
The health care workers were scheduled to leave for Israel under an existing labour agreement between Jerusalem and Manila.
At least 215 Palestinians and 12 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. "All I'm asking our departing caregivers and healthcare workers is to postpone their flights by a few days to ensure their safety," said Bello.
He said he would be answerable to the President if anything happens to them in Israel.
"It will just be about a few days of delay. We just want to be sure they will be safe," he added.
Earlier, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) chief Bernard Olalia said the caregivers would be deployed in Israel's residential zones that are far from the violence.
"We will continue to monitor the status of our overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Israel and if we receive any report that our HCWs are in danger, then we will immediately repatriate them back in the Philippines," Olalia said.
Israel had requested the Philippines for 1,000 health care workers to reinforce its coronavirus pandemic response, reported The Manila Times.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has raised its alert level for Gaza to 2 and advised Filipinos there to prepare for possible evacuation.
On its Facebook page, the DFA on Thursday said alert level 1 remains in the West Bank and the rest of Israel, reported The Manila Times.
There are close to 30,000 Filipinos in Israel and 91 in the Gaza Strip.
The DFA said Philippine embassies in Tel Aviv in Israel, Amman in Jordan and Cairo in Egypt "are jointly monitoring the situation in Israel and the Gaza Strip and are prepared to assist Filipino nationals who may be affected by the ongoing conflict."
It said it has not received "any report of Filipino casualties or injured in Israel, the Gaza Strip or the West Bank since the recent escalation of violence in certain areas within the region." (ANI)