Pinoys 'traumatized' by hostilities in Israel, but they at least have COVID protection

Migrant Filipinos in Israel are getting "traumatized" by the fighting between Israelis and Palestinians, but at least the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is no longer adding to their worries.

Old city Jerusalem, Israel. (Photo by Cole Keister / Unsplash)

Labor Attaché in Israel Rudy Gabasan bared in a virtual press briefing Friday, May 14, how overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have greatly benefitted from Israel's efficient public vaccination program.

"Lahat po ng kababayan na pumupunta sa Embassy, vaccinated eh. Mataas po ang vaccination dito (All the Filipino who have been going to the Embassy have been vaccinated. The vaccination rate here is high)," he shared.

"As of last night (Thursday), umaabot na po sa 90 percent ang vaccinated na adults in Israel. Kasama na rin po dyan yung mga migrant workers dito sa Israel (Up to 90 percent of adults in Israel have been vaccinated. These include the migrant workers of Israel)," said Gabasan, who is based in Tel Aviv.

"So hindi na po issue yung COVID; ang issue na ngayon yung security. So yun po yung kinakaharap ng bansang Israel at mga migrant workers dito. (So, COVID is no longer an issue; the issue now is security. That's what Israel and the migrant workers here are facing)," the labor official stressed.

Information and Publication Service (IPS) Director Rolly Francia of the Philippine Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), which facilitated the virtual briefing, commented: "That is good to know na mayroon nang proteksyon yung ating mga kababayan dyan (That’s good to know, that our countrymen there are protected from COVID)."

DOLE Director Rolly Garcia presides over the virtual press briefing on May 14, 2021. (Screengrab from Zoom meeting)

Gabasan provided an update on the situation of OFWs in Israel amid the revived hostilities between Israelis and Palestinians, which began last week. He said Israel, particularly the southern part of the country, has been subjected to rocket attacks.

Gabasan said OFWs are getting traumatized there because "Filipinos aren't used to this kind of situation."

"Tayong mga Pilipino hindi naman tayo sanay na may sumasabog, na may pumuputok na nakakamatay (We Filipinos aren't used to having blasts, or deadly explosives go off)," he explained.

Adding to the stress of OFWs--particularly the domestic helpers--is the fact that "they also have to take care of their employers" and help them evacuate, he said.

Over here in the Philippines, the government is slowly but surely ramping up its vaccination program as more and more anti-COVID jabs come in from abroad.

The country now has a total of 7,779,050 vaccine doses in its inventory. A total of 2,623,093 doses have already been administered as of May 12, says the Department of Health (DOH).