Marcos urged to name new DMW chief as Israel intensifies attacks vs Gaza

Cristina Chi - Philstar.com
Marcos urged to name new DMW chief as Israel intensifies attacks vs Gaza
This picture taken from the Israeli side of the border with the Gaza Strip on November 2, 2023, shows Israeli bombardment in the Gaza Strip, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement.
AFP / Fadel Senna

MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. should immediately fill the vacancy left behind by the late Department of Migrant Workers chief Susan Ople in light of the escalating conflict in Israel and Palestine, a ranking House member said Friday.

In a statement welcoming the president’s fresh appointment of Francisco Laurel Jr. as agriculture secretary, House Minority Leader Marcelino “Nonoy” C. Libanan (4Ps Partylist) called attention to the current absence of a DMW secretary.

 “We would also urge the president to name a new migrant workers secretary right away, considering that the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas might escalate and put more Filipino workers in harm’s way,” Libanan said.

The DMW, together with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), should be ready to put contingency plans into action, the lawmaker added.

Marcos on Friday announced that he is stepping down as Department of Agriculture chief after almost two years of holding the position, finally appointing a full-time official to head the agriculture department.

Marcos said that his choice for agriculture chief is someone who has a "fair understanding" of "what needs to be done."

DMW Undersecretary Hans Leo Cacdac took over as officer-in-charge of the DMW after former DMW Secretary Susan Ople passed away on August 22. 

The DMW is the government agency tasked with dealing with all matters related to the protection of the rights and welfare of overseas Filipino workers. 

Tensions between Israel and Palestine came to a head when Hamas militants launched a surprise attack on Israel on October 7, killing an estimated 800 Israelis. The DFA has reported that four Filipinos have been killed in the conflict, while two others are believed to have been taken hostage.

Hamas’ attack on Israel follows decades of protracted military assaults launched by Israel on the Gaza Strip, which is part of Palestine. The Gaza Strip has been under land, air and naval blockade by Israel since June 2007.

The Gaza Health Ministry said that at least 9,061 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza since October 7. Meanwhile, Israeli authorities count over 1,400 killed.  

This week, Israel stepped up its land and sea attacks on Gaza and completely encircled Gaza City. Israeli forces also launched airstrikes twice on Gaza's Jabalia refugee camp in two days.

At least 115 Filipinos in Gaza have requested repatriation, many of whom are permanent residents there, the DFA said on Thursday.

The United Nations General Assembly last week voted to pass a resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian truce between Israel and Palestinian militants Hamas and demanded aid access to the besieged Gaza Strip and protection of civilians.

The Philippines abstained from voting for the resolution due to the lack of an explicit condemnation of the “terrorist attack” of Hamas, which led to the deaths of civilians, including some Filipinos, Philippine Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN Antonio Lagdameo said.

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