The Philippines is closely coordinating with the Egyptian government for the exit of Filipinos at the Rafah border crossing, which Manila hopes will open within the week as conditions worsen in the besieged Gaza Strip. In a Bagong Pilipinas Ngayon interview on Wednesday, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Eduardo Jose de Vega said 57 Filipinos are waiting near the border crossing and are ready to leave once it opens. 'Sa madaling salita, kung magbukas ngayon mismo, makakatawid agad iyan. Handang-handa na. Iyong iba ay nasa ibang lugar sa southern Gaza pero kaya nilang pumunta sa crossing in a few minutes kung sinabihan na nagbukas na (They are ready to cross the border once it opens. The others are in other parts of southern Gaza but they are a few minutes away and are also prepared),' he said. 'Maaari, ito sabihin ko na, sana itong weekend makalusot na (There's a possibility, I'm going to say it now, hopefully this weekend they would be able to exit).' To date, no one has been able to cross Rafah apart from the humanitarian aid entering from Egypt. De Vega, however, said he has received 'positive news' that Egypt might gradually start accepting people out of Gaza Strip, starting with wounded Palestinians who have no access to medical care inside the coastal enclave. 'Kaya ang ating ambassador sa Cairo na si Ambassador Ezzedin Tago ay nakikipag-ugnayan sa kanilang Ministry of Foreign Affairs para buksan na 'yong crossing pati para sa mga Pilipino (This is why our ambassador in Cairo, Ambassador Ezzedin Tago, is coordinating with the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the opening of the crossing, including for Filipinos),' he said. De Vega said the situation in the Gaza Strip remains dire due to a shortage of supplies, especially food and water. Scores of Filipinos started trooping to the southern portion of Gaza two weeks ago after Israel advised evacuation amid its impending ground operation on Hamas in retaliation for the latter's Oct. 7 attack that killed 1,400, including four Filipinos, in Israel. 'Akala natin lahat na makakatawid na sila noon tapos nagkaroon ng bulilyaso, nagkaroon ng complication pa kaya hindi kumpleto ang supply (na nadala) nila (We thought they would be able to exit at that time but there were complications. That's why they were not able to bring enough supplies),' he added. Meanwhile, in Israel, the two missing Filipinos suspected to be among those kidnapped by the Hamas on Oct. 7 have still not been found. 'Wala pa tayong update pero posibleng kasama sila sa lagpas 200 na hostages dahil hindi pa sila natatagpuan sa Israel (We still don't have an update on them but they are possibly among the more than 200 hostages in Gaza because they have not been found in Israel),' de Vega said.
Source: Philippines News Agency