President Marcos: Cease hostilities, release war hostages

Helen Flores - The Philippine Star
President Marcos: Cease hostilities, release war hostages
President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.
Bongbong Marcos / Facebook Page

RIYADH — President Marcos joined other leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in calling for the cessation of hostilities, provision of humanitarian aid, release of hostages and strengthening diplomatic efforts to attain enduring peace in Israel and Palestine.

After exchanging views and expressing grave concerns over the developments in the Middle East during the first ASEAN-GCC Summit here on Friday, the two regional blocs called for peaceful resolution leading to the two-state solution based on the pre-1967 borders in accordance with international law and the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

They also called on all parties to the conflict to protect civilians, refrain from targeting them and to abide by international humanitarian law, particularly the Geneva Convention and for the immediate and unconditional release of civilian hostages, especially women, children, the sick and the elderly.

The ASEAN and the GCC also expressed support for the initiatives of Saudi Arabia, the European Union and the League of Arab States to revive the Middle East peace process in cooperation with Egypt and Jordan, and resolve the dispute between Israel and its neighbors in accordance with international law and all UN resolutions on this conflict.

Separately, the ASEAN foreign ministers also issued a statement expressing grave concern over the recent escalation of armed conflict in the Middle East.

Marcos has also expressed “deep concern” over the escalation of violence between Israeli forces and Hamas militants that has already left thousands dead, including four Filipinos.

“The Philippines is deeply concerned about the rising number of victims and the safety of all persons, as well as the dire humanitarian consequences of the conflict in Israel and in Gaza,” Marcos said.

Marcos expressed hope that all parties would exert utmost efforts for de-escalation and cessation of hostilities.

Meanwhile, two Filipinos remain unaccounted for in the Israel-Hamas war, according to Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Administrator Arnell Ignacio.

Ignacio said there were no updates yet on the whereabouts of these missing OFWs in Israel. “I am hoping and praying that they will be found soon,” Ignacio said.

The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) and OWWA welcomed a second group of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) returning from Israel on Friday afternoon.

DMW officer-in-charge Undersecretary Hans Leo Cacdac said this second group is composed of 18 returning OFWs, 14 of whom are caregivers while four are hotel workers.    

Each returning OFW from Israel will receive cash assistance worth P50,000 from both the DMW and OWWA for a total of P100,000, skills training vouchers and additional financial assistance from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority as well as psychosocial evaluation and assessment services from the Department of Health and Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Last Wednesday, 16 OFWs from Israel were successfully brought home as the first batch of repatriates, while 35 more OFWs in Israel have requested to be repatriated amid the escalating conflict.

The DMW has established a help desk for OFWs and their families affected by the ongoing tension between Israel and Lebanon.

In a public advisory, the DMW said they put up a DMW-OWWA 24/7 Task Force Lebanon Help Desk to address concerns of around 17,000 OFWs based in Lebanon.

The DMW said the Lebanon Help Desk may be reached via hotline +63 2 1348 or via WhatsApp | Viber: +63 908 3268344, +63 927 1478186, +63 920 5171059.

Missing OFW

The worst nightmare of the family of a missing Ilonggo caregiver in conflict-hit Israel has become reality.

On Thursday, the DFA confirmed that 44-year-old OFW Grace Prodigo-Cabrera from Maasin in Iloilo has been killed in Israel, almost two weeks after she was allegedly abducted by Hamas militants on Oct. 7.

Grace’s body was reportedly found in a desert in Be’eri Kibbutz, which is described by locals as “ground zero” of the surprise Hamas attack on Israel. She was identified through her fingerprints.

Mary June Prodigo, her sister who also works in Israel, has verified the report in a Facebook post. Another sister, Mae Prodigo Minerva, said they received a call from Ignacio confirming what happened to their kin and assuring them of help.

Meanwhile, the remains of Negrense Loreta Villarin Alacre will be arriving in the Philippines on Oct. 22, according to Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson.

Lacson, however, said OWWA regional director Rizza Joy Moldes did not give a specific time of arrival of the remains.

Alacre, 49, of Sitio Camay-an, Barangay Cadiz Viejo in Cadiz City, was among the four Filipino fatalities in the attacks of Hamas in Israel. She had been a caregiver in Haifa and Tel Aviv for 15 years.

The seven siblings of Alacre recently received P500,000 financial aid from Speaker Martin Romualdez. They disclosed that Loreta was supposed to return to the Philippines to mark her 50th birthday in November, and was thinking of retiring. — Jennifer Rendon, Gilbert Bayoran, Helen Flores, Rudy Santos, Rhodina Villanueva

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