MANILA, 12 May 2005 — The government said yesterday it has complained to the Israeli government that Filipinos working in Israel are being discriminated against under the Mideastern country’s stringent security measures.
In a press statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Philippine Ambassador to Israel Antonio Modena has met with Israeli Interior Minister Ophir Paz-Pines to complain about the “overly strict scrutiny” of Filipino passengers bound for the national capital, Tel Aviv.
Modena reported to Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto G. Romulo that while the security procedures being undertaken are understandable, there was no excuse for segregating incoming Filipinos from other passengers.
Ambassador Modena also complained to the Interior Ministry that Filipinos bound for Israel on board Israeli carriers in Hong Kong “are assigned seats at the rear of the aircraft, to the prejudice of their right to choose seats on a first-come, first-served basis.”
The cellular phones of incoming Filipinos are also being confiscated, preventing them from calling consular officers at the Philippine Embassy, Modena’s report said.
Modena reminded the minister that this practice is a violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, according to the DFA statement.
Modena’s report said the ambassadors of other countries have echoed similar concerns regarding the treatment by Israeli airport security personnel of their own nationals bound for or arriving in Israel and have supported the representations made by the Philippine Embassy.
“In reply to Ambassador Modena’s concerns, Minister Pines said he will receive a delegation of heads of foreign missions to discuss the matter further. Minister Pines also promised to meet with Israeli airport operatives and seek an improvement in the conduct of security procedures,” said the DFA.
About 30,000 Filipinos work in Israel, most as maids and caregivers.