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PH abstains from vote on truce in Gaza war

UN VOTE. Screens show how members of the UN General Assembly voted for an ‘immediate humanitarian truce’ in Gaza, as the Israel-Hamas conflict raged for a 21st day at the UN in New York on Friday. The nonbinding resolution, criticized by Israel and the United States for failing to mention Hamas, received 120 votes in favor, 14 against and 45 abstentions. AFP
Charles Dantes

The Philippines on Saturday abstained from voting on a United Nations resolution calling for an “immediate humanitarian truce” in Hamas-run Gaza, as it raised concerns on the mounting number of civilians killed in operations launched by Israel in response to an October 7 attack by Hamas militants on towns near its southern border.

The Philippines was among 45 countries that abstained from the non-binding resolution at the UN General Assembly. A total of 120 members voted in favor while 14 others voted against it.

The resolution, co-sponsored by Jordan and nearly 50 other countries, centered largely on the dire humanitarian situation in sealed-off Gaza as Israel presses on with its bombardment and prepares for a ground assault into the territory.

The document urges the “immediate” provision of water, food, medical supplies, fuel and electricity, and unhindered access for UN and other humanitarian agencies trying to help the Palestinians.

Meanwhile, the Philippine government is working closely with the Israeli Defense Forces to confirm the status of the two remaining missing Filipinos in Gaza.

At the Saturday News Forum in Quezon City, Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) officer-in-charge Hans Leo Cacdac said about 770 Filipino families have sought aid to locate their loved ones in Israel through the agency’s helplines.

Of that number, Cacdac said, “768 are accounted for,” but the whereabouts of the remaining two Filipinos are still pending “status updates.”

The DMW chief said he is not privy to the details concerning the search for the missing Filipinos.

Ambassador Antonio Lagdameo Sr. told the UN General Assembly that the Philippines is alarmed at the “state of civilian casualties” in the war between Israel and Hamas militants, which has dragged on for three weeks.

But the country had reservations about the proposed resolution, he said.

“As we condemn all terrorist attacks, the resolution does not mention nor condemn the terrorist attack of [October 7] by Hamas leading to the death of innocent civilians including women and children, as well as some Filipinos,” Lagdameo said.

“Therefore, despite the commendable efforts of the co-sponsors to improve the original text, for these reasons, my delegation abstained on the resolution,” he said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Saturday also said the Philippines supports the UN in addressing the humanitarian crisis affecting over 2 million Gazans.

“We continue to support efforts of the UN, particularly the UN Security Council, the UN humanitarian system, and the global community, to decisively address this crisis and put a stop to the alarming deaths and suffering in Gaza and Israel,” its statement read.

The DFA noted that Gulf leaders and ASEAN member-states, including the Philippines, took a stand against the violence in the Gaza Strip during their first-ever summit in Riyadh earlier this month.

Security analyst Chester Cabalza of International Development and Security Cooperation told ABS-CBN News that the resolution is a “tricky balancing act” for the country since Israel has been a long-time ally.

The Philippines has had a big part in the history of the Jewish state, from the time of the Holocaust up to the creation of their country, the Israeli Embassy earlier said.

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