EVEN in the face of death, 14 Filipinos turned back on the chance to be freed from war torn Gaza Strip as their Palestinian relatives were denied permission to exit at the border of Egypt.
Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega said 56 Filipinos were allowed to exit the Rafah Crossing, at the Palestinian border side when the border was reopened Thursday.
Accompanying this third batch of Philippine evacuees are 17 Palestinians who are relatives of the Filipinos.
However, after walking a few miles and reaching the Egyptian border, the nine of 17 Palestinians were not allowed to exit.
“The 14 [Filipinos] were already through Egyptian border but decided at [the] last moment to stay when their Palestinian relatives were not cleared by Egyptian authorities at border,” de Vega said.
The eight other Palestinians were cleared by the Egyptian border patrol and joined the bus arranged by the Philippine Embassy in Egypt.
Foreigners were allowed to exit Gaza and Filipinos were given priority after prodding from the Philippines government. Early this week, Israel said they would allow Palestinian spouses of Filipinos if cleared by the Israeli security forces.
Aside from Israel, Egypt also has a say on who among the evacuees they are willing to accept.
De Vega said there will still be another round of repatriation from Gaza although he reckoned that not all the remaining 53 Filipinos in Gaza would be willing to go home.
Meanwhile, 35 Filipinos and one Palestinian woman from Gaza have arrived today in Manila. Six of the Filipinos decided to stay in Cairo for the meantime.
A family of three—a mother and 2 children—wishes to stay in Egypt with the Egyptian husband/father, while a Filipina woman who is nine months pregnant is not allowed to travel. Her relative will also stay with her.