By Alex P. Vidal
“Conflict is drama, and how people deal with conflict shows you the kind of people they are.” — Stephen Moyer
THE Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has treated the case of two Filipino doctors who recently crossed the Rafah border from war-torn Gaza Strip to Egypt like a movie script.
And the two doctors—Darwin dela Cruz and Regidor Esguerra—appeared to be willing participants in the melodramatic portrayal by the DFA of a simple crossing in the Gaza-Egypt border by a group of Doctors Without Borders or Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF), which is not actually earthshaking.
Let’s make this clear and put everything in proper perspective.
Dela Cruz and Esguerra are not OFWs or Filipinos based in Palestine who were trapped when Israel started the rocket and brutal ground assaults in Gaza to eviscerate terrorist Hamas.
They were members of MSF international staff permitted to leave Gaza for being international aid workers.
In other words, the crossing of two Pinoy doctors, along with other MSF International staff from other countries, was really expected.
It was not supposed to be exploited and used as shindig by any DFA official to tantalize us that our foreign affairs officials “did something” to rescue trapped Philippine nationals in Gaza.
They can’t smokescreen the exaggeration and aggrandizement.
In fact, the DFA ostensibly violated MSF’s request to “respect the privacy and wellbeing” of all MSF staff when DFA Undersecretary Eduardo De Vega used the MSF staff crossing as a major event owing to the presence in the group of two Filipino doctors.
By using the occasion for a publicity stunt leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
The two Pinoy doctors, who were supposed to perform their sworn duties and obligations as medical aid workers without any hurly-burly publicity gimmick, were equally liable for exploiting the normal crossing to score pogi points (did they announce their “freedom” in the social media?). They should not. They must not.
International aid workers are supposed to be reticent who shun publicity.
The MSF had clearly stated the team that crossed the Rafah border recently included 22 MSF staff, where the two Pinoy doctors belonged. “Although some names have been circulated on social media, we ask for their privacy and wellbeing to be respected,” appealed the MSF.
“A new team of international MSF staff, including a specialized medical team, has already been identified and is ready to enter Gaza as soon as the situation allows, to support the humanitarian and medical response.”
DFA, as well as the Philippine Embassy in Israel, is not yet off the hook. Some 134 Filipinos are still in danger of being killed under shelling if they could not be evacuated or allowed to cross from Gaza to Egypt.
These are the warm bodies that need to be evacuated and rescued.
This is the true state of the Philippine nationals caught in the middle of violence and war between Israel and Hamas.
The DFA should stop the dramatization of the two Pinoy doctors’ crossing—unless they are doing it hide their incompetence and failures.
I RECEIVED another email from New York Governor Cathy Hochul which she also sent to other New Yorkers on November 1:
Alex, I know many New Yorkers are hurting right now.
Since Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, brutally killing women and children and kidnapping hundreds — including Americans — tension has risen in communities across New York. For Jewish and Muslim New Yorkers alike, the pain is deep, as they fear not just for the safety of their loved ones in harm’s way, but increasingly, for their own safety here at home.
As governor, my number one priority is protecting New Yorkers.
I’ve met with Jewish and Muslim communities.
I’ve heard about the fear they’re feeling.
And I want to let you know directly what your state government is doing to protect all New Yorkers from discrimination and violence. New York State is:
—Committing $50 million to help local law enforcement agencies prevent and solve crime, including hate crimes
—Supporting communities at risk of hate crimes, with $25 million to help vulnerable organizations boost security
—Conducting a third-party review of CUNY’s antisemitism and anti-discrimination policies
—Expanding State Police’s Social Media Analysis Unit to monitor threats on school and college campuses
—Launching in-person, community specific community circles through the Division of Human Rights to bring New Yorkers together
—Every single New Yorker has a right to feel safe and to be safe as they go about their daily lives — we must accept nothing less.
We will not allow hate and intimidation to become normalized. We will not risk losing our identity as a place that has been long admired, a place known for acceptance. We are New Yorkers, and we will continue to set an example for the rest of the country and the world.
Ever upward, Gov. Kathy Hochul
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two daily newspapers in Iloilo.—Ed