Filipinos cautioned vs. Israel-Hezbollah cross-border strikes

By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora

October 19, 2023, 4:27 pm Updated on October 19, 2023, 6:22 pm

<p class="p1"><span class="s1">Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Eduardo Jose de Vega <em>(PNA photo by Avito Dalan)</em></span></p>

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Eduardo Jose de Vega (PNA photo by Avito Dalan)

MANILA – The Philippine government is closely monitoring the situation of Filipinos in southern Lebanon as tensions in the area flare after Israel fired retaliatory strikes against Hezbollah targets.

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Eduardo Jose de Vega said 2,700 Filipinos living in the southern portion of Lebanon have been told to evacuate because of Israel’s “possible retaliation” against the recent attacks conducted by the Lebanese militant group.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is still waiting for a recommendation from the Philippine Embassy in Beirut on the possible raising of the alert level status there.

“We'll ensure that they are safe. Wala pang nagiging biktima na Pilipino (No Filipino has so far been reported hurt),” de Vega said in a virtual briefing on Thursday.

The Israel Defense Forces on Oct. 19 said several anti-tank missiles were fired from Lebanon toward Israel, while at least nine launches crossed its borders.

It said in the past 12 hours, it responded by “returning fire to the origin of the strikes” and “striking Hezbollah terrorist infrastructure” using tank fire.

The cross-border strikes were the latest clashes near the Lebanese border amid fears that Hezbollah would join the fray and open a second front after the deadly war between Israeli forces and Hamas in Gaza.

House resolution

Minority Leader and Basilan Lone District Rep. Mujiv Hataman said he is set to file a House resolution aimed at initiating action to end the violence against innocent civilians, including women, children and the elderly in the worsening Israel-Hamas conflict.

Hataman, a Muslim lawmaker from Mindanao, is calling on his fellow House of Representatives members to support the resolution.

“I believe this august body can encourage governments including our own to take a strong position against the continued violence against innocent civilians caught in the crossfires of the conflict,” he said.

Hataman said the resolution will also call for immediate and unimpeded access to international humanitarian agencies in the affected communities, especially in Gaza, to provide relief and medical care to civilians.

“This resolution will also urge the international community of nations (UN) to work collaboratively towards a permanent and peaceful resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,” he said. “We call upon the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority to return to the negotiating table to seek a just and lasting peace in the region.” (with a report from Zaldy De Layola/PNA)