By Rjay Zuriaga Castor
Eighteen Ilonggo Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Israel were monitored safe amid the intensifying armed conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.
The Iloilo City’s Public Employment Services Office (PESO) reported this after it activated its OFW Help Desk.
Public Employment Services Office-Iloilo City (PESO) Manager Gabriel Felix Umadhay, they were able to establish contact with these migrant Ilonggos in Israel through their families, and all of them are confirmed to be in safe condition.
Umadhay mentioned that three of these OFWs are located in the war zone and are taking refuge in bomb shelters.
PESO-Iloilo City reported that among these individuals, 12 are working as caregivers, while the remaining OFWs are engineers, nurses, and hotel workers.
Umadhay urged the families of these OFWs to contact the help desk and report their relatives’ whereabouts in Israel.
“Gapanawagan gid kita nga kon sin o ang nagakinahanglan bulig sa ila mga pamilya nga ara sa Israel nga ara sa war zone area nga makig angot sa PESO-Iloilo City through 333-1111 (local 517),” he said.
“Pwede ninyo ma-report kon ano ang sitwasyon sang inyo mga himata kag para ma-coordinate namon sa OWWA and other concerned agencies sang gobyerno agud mabuligan sila,” Umadhay added.
For those who plan to return home, Umadhay said the city government is prepared to offer livelihood support and cash assistance through the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Meanwhile, Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. ordered the reactivation of the Iloilo provincial government’s 24/7 Operation Bulig Ilonggo Migrants Desk, which will be operated and managed by the Public Employment Service Office and the Provincial Civil Defense Office.
“We want to let them know that we have a help desk that will assist them in times of crisis,” said provincial PESO head Francisco Heler Jr.
To further bolster support efforts, the provincial government has also reinstated “Task Force Bulig Ilonggo,” in which a social media chat was created to enable proactive communication with the families of those affected by the conflict.
Provincial Administrator Raul Banias said he is closely coordinating with the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to ensure that immediate assistance is extended to the Ilonggos.
“The governor also gave instructions that our Operation Center will proactively call or inform our local government units and even the barangays just in case they receive a report of an Ilonggo affected by the war. The governor is closely monitoring the situation and also the [Operations Center],” Banias said.
Meanwhile, Rizza Joy Moldes, officer-in-charge of the OWWA-Region 6, has urged Ilonggos with relatives working in Israel to coordinate with their office.
Families may contact the hotline number – 02-1348 and WhatsApp/Viber – 09083268334, 0927148186, and 09178327307. Moldes said the contact details are available 24/7 for inquiries and assistance.