Philippine President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. expressed satisfaction on Tuesday, November 28, regarding the release of a Filipino woman in Gaza as part of the Qatar-mediated humanitarian pause agreement. Noralyn Babadilla became the second Filipino released from captivity in Gaza, following Gelienor ‘Jimmy’ Pacheco’s release on November 24.
The Filipino-Israeli woman, Noralin Babadilla arrived in Israel after being released by Hamas on Tuesday night along with a group of 12 hostages, as announced by President Ferdinand Marcos. Babadilla, the second of two Filipinos released during the Israel-Hamas war truce, was visiting friends in Kibbutz Nirim with her husband during Hamas’ October 7 attack. Tragically, her husband, Gideon Babani, lost his life in the attack, and Babadilla was taken hostage. With her release, President Marcos affirmed that all Filipinos affected by the war have now been accounted for. In contrast to the man released on Friday, who had already received a medical discharge, the second hostage is a woman not officially listed by the Philippines as kidnapped by Hamas. She had been declared missing.
Marcos expressed appreciation to the involved parties for their role in facilitating the release, acknowledging Egypt and the State of Qatar for their crucial contributions throughout the preceding weeks.
In a positive development, the Philippine president announced that all Filipinos affected by the war have been confirmed to be safe. President Marcos expressed appreciation for the efforts of the Philippine Embassy officials in Tel Aviv and Israeli authorities in facilitating the release of the hostages. He also extended thanks to the governments of Egypt and Qatar for their mediation efforts in achieving the current ceasefire.
Before the conflict erupted on October 7, there were around 30,000 Filipinos in Israel, many of whom were employed in the elderly care sector. Despite the hostilities, only a few hundred chose to return to their home country.
In addition to the two hostages already released, the Philippines reported the unfortunate demise of two Filipinos during the armed wing of the Islamist group’s assault on southern Israel. This prompted Israel to declare war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The situation reflects the complexity and tragic consequences of the conflict in the region.
On November 27, Qatar declared the extension of the Gaza humanitarian pause for an extra two days. On November 28, Dr Majed Al-Ansari, the Official Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stated that Qatar is making continuous efforts to prolong the humanitarian truce in Gaza for the next 48 hours.