Israel salutes 4 Filipino Hamas victims, vows lifetime aid

By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora

November 28, 2023, 9:44 pm

<p>Israel Ambassador to the Philippines Ilan Fluss <em>(File photo)</em></p>

Israel Ambassador to the Philippines Ilan Fluss (File photo)

MANILA – The Israeli government on Tuesday paid tribute to the four Filipinos killed in the Oct. 7 Hamas attack and promised lifetime aid to their bereaved families.

In a press conference in Taguig City, Israel Ambassador to the Philippines Ilan Fluss said Israel will be providing a base of PHP100,000 monthly aid to the victim's immediate family.

Fluss said the amount would still “depend on the status” of the family, whether the recipient is the parent or the spouse, while also taking into consideration the number of children.

“But I could tell you this is more than PHP100,000 a month and that’s the baseline -- for life,” he said.

“Israeli law understands that here the family has to continue to survive and this is why we need to continue to assist,” he added.

The envoy noted that recently released caregiver Jimmy Pacheco could also qualify for a “monthly aid” following his 49-day captivity.

The Embassy held a Mass for Angelyn Aguirre, Loreta Alacre, Grace Cabrera, and Paul Castelvi, the four Filipinos killed when the Hamas mounted a cross-border attack in Israel.

Also commemorating their lives were officials from the Philippine government, including Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Eduardo Jose De Vega, Migrant Workers Undersecretary Patricia Yvonna Caunan, and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Administrator Arnell Ignacio.

Erlinda Aguirre, mother of Angelyn, said she sorely misses her daughter whom she called her “source of strength.”

“Until now I still cannot believe I lost my precious daughter. The pain is unbearable, why must this tragedy happen to her?” she said in an emotional speech.

“It is difficult for a mother to continue living without the presence of her daughter,” she added.

Angenica, Aguirre’s sister and a survivor of the Oct. 7 attack, narrated that she still remembers their last online conversation.

“She was telling all of us that she was scared,” she said.

“Magka-chat kami. Sabi niya natatakot siya. Parehas kaming natatakot. Ang sabi ko sa kanya magdasal lang kami at magiging maayos ang lahat (We we're talking over chat messaging she said she's scared. Both of us were scared. I told her to pray and everything would be fine),” she recalled.

When Angenica tried to reach her again, there was no longer a response.

Aguirre was a newlywed nurse from Pangasinan who, despite a chance to flee her attackers, remained by her elderly ward Nira’s side, resulting in both of them being brutally murdered.

Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, in confirming her death last month, praised Aguirre for her “unbelievable humanity and loyalty.”

Her husband, Nicolas, said he is still in disbelief over his wife’s death.

“Iniisip ko nalang nasa ibang lugar lang siya, na LDR pa rin kami kaso minsan kapag natutulog na ako biglang papasok siya sa isip ko. Nagigising talaga ako at ‘di ko na lang mapigilang maiyak (I'd like to think that she's just in a distant place, that we're still in a long-distance relationship. But thoughts of her wake me up and I just cry),” he shared.

“Proud ako sa kanya pero masakit na nadamay siya sa gulo sa Israel. Sobrang masakit. Sana matigil na ang gyera dahil lalong tumatagal, mas maraming taong makakaranas ng nararanasan namin (I am proud of her but what happened to her really broke us because she was caught in the conflict in Israel. It was extremely painful. I hope the war ends because the longer it lasts, the more people suffer the same way we do),” he added.

A humanitarian pause started on Friday and will go on for the next two days, allowing the delivery of humanitarian assistance into and across Gaza and the exchange of Hamas hostage victims and Palestinian prisoners. (PNA)