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‘Stop bombing Gaza hospitals!’ Filipino health groups tell Israel

Filipino health professionals and organizations called for an immediate stop to attacks on hospitals and civilians in Gaza as the Israeli siege of Palestinian territory enters its sixth week.

Fifty six doctors, nurses, other health workers and students in a petition said hospitals and other health facilities in the besieged territory must be spared from further attacks by Israeli military forces that started last October 7.

Officers and members of the Health Alliance for Democracy, Health Action for Human Rights, Council for Health and Development, Alliance of Health Workers, Community Medical Practitioners and Advocates Association, Filipino Nurses United, Philippine Medical Students Association (PMSA) and the Philippine Nursing Students Association called on Israel to uphold International Humanitarian Law that excludes hospitals from the list of military targets.

The petition was also signed by employees unions and associations of the National Children’s Hospital, the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, Philippine General Hospital, Tondo Medical Center, Philippine Heart Center, San Lazaro Hospital, Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center and Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center as well as the Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center chapter of the PMSA.

“We denounce the November 15 raid of Israeli Defense Force in Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza. Thousands were affected, vulnerable patients trapped, staff and other civilians displaced as they run out of medical supplies and fuel,” the petitioners said.

The petitioners also said they strongly condemn the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital bombing on October 17 that killed around 500 people and injured thousands more.

The groups, citing United Nations (UN) reports, said hospitals in North Gaza suffer heavy strikes and forcing almost all health facilities in the area to cease operations.

Some 1,000 kidney failure patients as well as 2,000 cancer patients and 130 premature babies in incubators are at immediate risk of death due to the collapse of the health care system, the groups cited.

Israel also repeatedly issued evacuation orders to hospitals and other medical facilities in Gaza, which the World Health Organization said is a “death sentence to the sick and injured.”

“We grieve for the more than 11,078 people killed, more than 4,600 of whom are children. We sympathize with the 27,490 people injured, and 1.6 million internally displaced. During the first month of Israel’s onslaught on Gaza, over 300 Gazans died each day, bringing the death toll to more than 12,000,” the petition further said.

The petitioners also said they salute the doctors, nurses and other health and humanitarian workers who continue treating the wounded and sick amid Israel’s evacuation orders and attacks despite, deaths among their ranks and threats to their lives.

As of November 12, over 102 UN employees have been killed inside Gaza, alongside 182 health care workers.

“We call for the protection of all civilians, medical and humanitarian personnel, and unimpeded access to essential humanitarian supplies, including food, water, shelter, medicine, fuel and electricity,” the groups said, adding they stand with the Palestinian people in their struggle for peace and freedom in Palestine. # (Raymund B.Villanueva)

Fil-Ams join largest pro-Palestine rally in US history

Hundreds of Filipinos joined the largest pro-Palestine rally in United States of America (USA) history held in Washington DC last Saturday, November 4, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN USA) reported.

Over 300 Filipinos for Palestine members and allies participated in the historic National March on Washington for a Free Palestine event attended by over 300,000 protesters as Israel’s punitive action against Gazans enters its second month.

The Filipino-Americans said they demand an immediate ceasefire between Hamas and the State of Israel, for the latter to end its siege on Gaza, and for the US and the Philippines to end its support for Israel.

“As Filipinos, we know what it’s like to struggle against foreign occupation and domination, what it is like to fight for national liberation across generations,” BAYAN USA said.

Long Live Gaza!” Filipinos for Palestine participants to the US|National March on Washington for a Free Palestine shout. (Photo by Malaya Movement-New Jersey)

“Philippine and Palestinian liberation are inextricably linked because we have a common enemy. So let us rise up and link arms across our movements and build anti-imperialist solidarity,” the group added.

The latest conflict began after Palestinian group Hamas conducted military strikes against Israel last October 7 that also killed civilians, including four overseas Filipino workers.

Hamas took as prisoners hundreds of Israelis they said they shall be freed in exchange for thousands of Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli prisons.

The State of Israel responded with massive air and ground strikes against all 2.2 million Gazans.

The Palestinian health ministry reported that at least 9770 people, 4,008 of whom were children, have been killed in nearly a month of Israeli strikes.

The massive rally in Washington came after the US government last October 18 vetoed the Brazil-led resolution at the United Nations (UN) calling for a ceasefire in Palestine.

The Philippine government abstained from voting on the resolution, the only Southeast Asian government that did not support the proposed measure. 

This prompted BAYAN in the Philippines to spearhead a protest action at the Israeli Embassy in Manila last Tuesday, October 31.

At the Manila rally, BAYAN president Renato Reyes revealed the Philippines had been the third largest buyer of Israeli weapons from 2018 to 2022 used among others in former president Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody drug war that is under investigation by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, The Netherlands.

In Manila, pro-Palestine independence advocates protested at the Israeli Embassy last October 31. (Photo by Altermidya)

In Washington DC, BAYAN USA stated they demand an immediate end to the purchasing of weapons from Israel it said funnels hundreds of millions of dollars toward death rather than the needs of Filipinos.

“The Marcos administration’s silence on Israel’s genocide of the Palestinian people is unacceptable. It is also a death sentence for the tens of thousands of overseas Filipino workers in occupied Palestine, who are also seen as ‘collateral damage’ by Israel in its attacks against Palestine,” BAYAN USA said.

The Filipinos for Palestine contingent was organized by BAYAN USA, Malaya Movement, Kabataan Alliance, Anakbayan USA, and GABRIELA USA that were among the over 500 endorsers of the march. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Locsin hit for ‘death to Palestinian children’ tweet

Moros and migrants condemned Philippine Ambassador to the Court of St. James Teodoro Locsin Jr. for his post on X (formerly Twitter) saying Palestine children deserve to die.

Moro-Christian People’s Alliance (MCPA) secretary general Amirah Lidasan said they condemn the ambassador and others who think like him that wish genocide on Muslims.

Locsin’s now unpublished first tweet.

Migrante International (MI) said Locsin’s statement is “deplorable and unacceptable” given the fact that so many Palestinian children are dying and have died in the past due to the Israeli occupation of their homeland.

In a now deleted post, Locsin justified the killing of Palestinian children as they might grow up as their “gullible” elders who let the group Hamas launch rockets at Israel.

“They are Muslims. They could stage mass suicide attacks against Hamas until the latter ran out of bullets,” the ambassador added in a rambling post.

Locsin later said he immediately deleted his “sarcastic response to a tweet after realizing it could be misconstrued and retweeted to incite.”

Locsin’s justification and explanation after unpublishing his first tweet.

“My apologies to those who did misconstrue my sentiments and did in fact get triggered,” Locsin, once the Philippines’ top diplomat as foreign affairs secretary under the Rodrigo Duterte government, said.

Locsin added he “obviously was not advocating for the literal death of anyone, but rather simply for the end of any ideology that condones terrorism in any way, share or form.”

A controversial Philippine figure for several decades, Locsin is also known for obscene gestures in public, using expletives in his tweets and social media posts, as well as contentious statements.

Worst form of discrimination’

But MCPA’s Lidasan said that Locsin displayed his ignorance and indifference to the decades-long Palestinian struggle by even thinking like he did.

Worse, Lidasan added, Locsin showed the worst form of discrimination against Muslims for wishing genocide against them.

“He perpetuates, incites violence and harm against Muslims with his position. He discriminates by generalizing Muslims as terrorists; he has no heart for the children and youth for wishing them dead,” Lidasan said.

MI said Locsin’s tweet contributes to the wholesale dehumanization and criminalization of the Palestinian people.

“If even children cannot be spared from violence, then the entire population must indeed be targeted,” MI in a statement Wednesday said.

The migrants group said Locsin should be barred from holding any more important government posts, a call supported by the MCPA.

Online petition

A campaign has indeed been started on online petition platform change.org by a certain Rosette Marimon demanding Locsin’s removal as Philippine ambassador for “promoting hate and violence.”

“This individual continually broadcasts ideas of violence, racism, and Islamophobia – beliefs that are not only harmful but also divisive. His actions are in stark contrast to our shared values of peace, unity, and respect for all individuals regardless of their race or religion,” the petition reads.

The role he occupies should be one that promotes understanding among diverse groups rather than showing seeds of discord, it adds.

“We must demand his removal from office to ensure these harmful ideologies do not continue to spread unchecked. By doing so, we send a clear message that hate speech will not be tolerated from those in positions of power,” it adds further.

The petition is addressed to both the Office of the President and the Office of the Ombudsman, suggesting the filing of charges against Locsin.

In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs said it “completely disassociates itself” from the ambassador’s statement. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

OFW group sad at 2 Filipino deaths in Palestine

Calls on PH government to stop sending Pinoys to conflict areas

A migrant group condoled with the families of two compatriots reported killed in the war in Palestine and called on the Philippine government to ready repatriation and job plans for Filipinos wishing to come home.

In a statement, Migrante International (MI) said it is deeply saddened by reports that two Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) have been killed since the outbreak of shooting last Saturday, October 7

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said a 32-year old newly-wed Filipina who hails from Pangasinan and a 42-year old Filipino who hails from Pampanga have become casualties in the military actions between the Israeli and Palestinian fighters

“We also express our deep concern for the more than 70 OFWs in Gaza who are reportedly seeking repatriation and more than 1,500 OFWs in the high conflict areas. Their numbers are expected to increase as the conflict is projected to escalate,” MI said.

The group said the Philippine government must speed up crafting an evacuation and repatriation plan as the conflict only show signs of escalating.

DFA said the Philippine Embassy in Amman, Jordan is implementing Alert Level 3 protocols that allow voluntary repatriation for Filipinos. The Embassy is also reportedly talking with Egypt for possible exit routes from Gaza.

‘No more deployment in war areas’

MI also said the Philippines must stop its deployment of OFWs in areas affected by war and conflict and instead create more decent jobs in the country.

“It should stop depending on other countries to provide jobs for Filipinos. It should beef up its funds and resources — not for confidential and intelligence funds under the control of a handful in government — for ensuring the safety and protection of our Filipino migrant workers and developing agriculture and national industries in our country,” the group said.

MI called on fellow OFWs and all Filipinos to study the conflict closely and refrain from blaming Hamas for the deaths of two compatriots, saying the Palestinian attacks in Israeli-occupied territories are the result of decades-old violence and occupation.

“The root cause of the conflict in Israel is the Israel government’s occupation of Palestine. This is one of the longest-running and most brutal occupations in recent world history. It should stop immediately,” MI said.

The group said it also condemns the Ferdinand Marcos Jr. government for automatically expressing support for Israel in the conflict. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Filipino activists condemn Israel’s massacre of Palestinians

A few hours after the massacre of 61 Palestinian civilians in Gaza by Israeli forces, activists held a protest action along EDSA in Quezon City Tuesday afternoon.

Various organizations led by the International League of People’s Struggles-Philippines condemned the latest massacre while the United States of America opened its new Embassy in Jerusalem.