MANILA – A total of 34 Filipinos and one Palestinian national arrived in the Philippines Friday after weeks of being stranded in the besieged Gaza Strip due to the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo welcomed the repatriates who were part of the 40 Filipinos who crossed the Rafah border crossing early this week.
"I admire the strength and resilience of our kababayan (countrymen) who had to endure the arduous journey out of Gaza. Finally, they are home," Manalo said.
"(The Department of Foreign Affairs) is working to facilitate the repatriation of more Filipinos, and I am hopeful of further positive news in the coming days," he added.
The DFA said a second batch of 56 Filipinos also crossed over to Egyptian soil on Nov. 9 but 14 decided not to proceed to Cairo.
DFA Spokesperson Ma. Teresita Daza said 14 opted to stay behind after their Palestinian relatives were not provided security clearance to cross the border.
"Our Embassy officials are convincing these 14 not to remain behind in Gaza and to join the rest of the Filipinos who will leave in the next batch," she said. (PNA)