OFWs safe in Israel, only one requested transfer to gov’t shelter — DOLE

Marje Pelayo   •   May 14, 2021   •   231

MANILA, Philippines — Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III confirmed to UNTV on Friday (May 14) that only one overseas Filipino worker (OFW) did ask for help amid the ongoing tension in Israel.

Bello said the OFW requested to be transferred to the Embassy’s shelter for safety.

“Mayroon lang isa na nagpatulong na mailipat dahil iyong kanyang employer muntik ng ma-bull’s eye ang bahay kaya sa takot nagpa-tulong na milipat muna siya,” Bello said citing reports from Labor Attaché in Israel Rodolfo Gabasan.

[Only one asked assistance and be transferred because [an airstrike] nearly hit her employer’s house. In fear, she asked to be transferred.]

“Kaya kinuha siya ng ating labor attache at inilipat sa shelter na kung nasaan ang mga kasamahan siyang mga kababayan natin,” he added.

[So our labor attache fetched her and transported her to our shelter where some of our kababayans are also staying.]

So far, the Labor Chief assured that no Filipino worker has been injured or killed in the conflict although the situation remains volatile.

“Ang sabi niya [Gabasan] lumalala ang tensyon pero awa ng Dios wala pa tayong nadadamay na kababayan, wala pang nasasaktan, wala pang namamatay,” Secretary Bello said.

[According to [Labor Attache Gabasan], the tension is escalating but with God’s mercy, none of our compatriots have been affected, no one is injured, no one is killed.]

In its Facebook page, the Philippine Embassy in Israel constantly reminds Filipinos in the country to be vigilant amid the uprisings, through a detailed advisory written in Filipino for easier understanding.

The Embassy remains closed but its hotline numbers +972 54 466 1188 will always be open for Filipinos to call in case of emergency.

PH gov’t to consult with Israeli experts on COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Robie de Guzman   •   June 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government will seek advise from Israel’s Ministry of Health as part of its bid to further enhance the country’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout.

In a statement, vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said three experts from Israel’s Ministry of Health will arrive in the country on June 20 to share their technical expertise and knowledge about the vaccination rollout.

“In particular, the experts will discuss strategies on the deployment of highly sensitive vaccine types, mechanisms that need to be put in place as the country transitions to the new normal, and ways on how to address vaccine hesitancy,” Galvez said.

Israel has been considered a model country due to its highly successful vaccination program. The country has recently ended its outdoor mask mandate policy after completely inoculating more than half of its population.

Schools in the country have also re-opened, as the Israeli government is now working to fully re-open the nation’s economy.

“We will study and look at the lessons learned by Israel and hopefully apply those in the Philippines,” Galvez said.

The vaccine czar said the Philippine government is currently studying the feasibility of adopting one of Israel’s interventions to increase public uptake, which is “providing privileges to those vaccinated and restrictions for those unvaccinated.”

He explained that this method works by allowing people who have received the jab to increase their mobility and slowly return to normalcy, while those who have not been vaccinated will still need to follow quarantine protocols.

Meanwhile, Galvez expressed support for the measures being used by local government units and private sector to encourage more people to get vaccinated.

“With the help of all sectors, unti-unti nang tumataas ang public uptake. We started with only 32% and now we are reaching 60% to 80% and with more aggressive efforts such as house-to-house campaigns, barangay town hall meetings, and tapping household advocates, tataas pa ‘yan,” said Galvez.

“Yung mga LGUs natin nagkakaroon din sila ng mga technique para magkaroon ng motivation sa kanilang mga residents, in a form of rice, pabuya, raffle, at iba pa,” he added.

LGUs have launched their respective incentive programs to encourage their constituents to get vaccinated.

Galvez said some LGUs are offering a sack of rice for every vaccinated individual, while some are organizing raffle draws for those who get the jab. Prizes include farm animals, groceries, motorcycles, and even a house and lot.

The private sector has also recently launched “Ingat Angat Bakuna Benefits” wherein vaccinated individuals get exclusive discounts and special gifts from the country’s leading restaurants nationwide.

He also said that the national government is now tapping “household advocates” to encourage their family members to get inoculated, noting that this approach is more effective as Filipinos trust and believe family members especially on topics of safety and protection.

 

UN-HRC to probe possible war crimes amid Israel-Gaza conflict

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 28, 2021

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UN-HRC) has launched an international investigation into alleged crimes committed during the conflict between Israel and the Islamist group Hamas in Gaza.

The UN-HRC adopted a resolution that will establish an inquiry commission to “investigate alleged human rights violations & abuses in Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, & in Israel, up to & since 13 April 2021.”

Twenty-four countries, out of the 47-member forum, voted in favor of the said probe while 14 abstained.

The document stated that the commission of inquiry shall “establish the facts and circumstances that may amount to such violations and abuses and of the crimes perpetrated.”

The commission shall “collect, consolidate, and analyze evidence of such violations and abuses and of the crimes perpetrated, and systematically record and preserve all information, documentation and evidence, including interviews, witness testimony, and forensic material, in accordance with the international law standards, in order to maximize the possibility of its admissibility in legal proceedings,” according to the document.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the said UN-HRC decision, saying it is a “mockery of international law”.

“Today’s shameful decision is yet another example of the UN Human Rights Council’s blatant anti-Israel obsession. This travesty makes a mockery of international law and encourages terrorists worldwide,” he said.

The Palestinian Authority said the resolution would pave way for the international community to know the discrimination of Israel against Palestinians. AAC

Deployment of OFWs to Israel remains suspended for three more weeks — DOLE

Marje Pelayo   •   May 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has extended to three more weeks the suspension on the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to Israel.

According to Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, the agency needs to make sure that all OFWs bound for Israel would be safe and the truce between Israel and Hamas is sincerely being carried out by both parties.

“Give it another two or three weeks at ma-maintain talaga ang strict observance of the ceasefire agreement between Israel and the Palestinian and the Hamas then we will already consider giving the OFWs the OEC which is the final document for their deployment,” Bello assured.

Once the suspension is lifted, about 400 caregivers may be accepted right away as stipulated under the Philippines and Israel’s bilateral agreement.

This is in addition to around 30,000 OFWs in Israel who are mostly caregivers.

To date, no Filipinos are hurt or killed in the ongoing unrest. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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