Hamas Kidnap Survivor Plans to Return to Israel for His Family’s Future

HAPPY HOMECOMING Israel’s Ambassador to the Philippines Ilan Fluss (left), OWWA Administrator Arnell Ignacio, Migrant Workers Officer in Charge Hans Cacdac and other government officials welcome Jimmy Pacheco on Monday, Dec. 18, 2023, at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. With them are Pacheco’s mother Felicitas, his wife Clarice and his three children. PHOTO BY CLAIRE MONDARES
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Filipino caregiver Gelienor “Jimmy” Pacheco, who survived a Hamas abduction in Israel, expressed his intention to return to the conflict-ridden country in order to secure his family’s future. Pacheco, who arrived in the Philippines on Monday morning, shared his determination to provide a better life for his children, ensuring that they do not face the hardships he experienced in his youth.

“First of all, I’m very happy that I’m finally home with my kids and my family. It still feels like a dream. Just like what I told my wife, yes, I’m going back [to Israel] to secure my kids’ future. That’s how parents should be. I don’t want them to experience the hardships I had gone through when I was young. Even if they say that there will be a lifetime pension, I don’t want to rely on that,” Pacheco said in an interview.

Pacheco, accompanied by his wife Clarice, his mother Felicitas, and his three children (ages 11 and 5), was warmly welcomed upon his arrival via Philippine Airlines flight PR 659. Despite being traumatized by her husband’s ordeal, Clarice expressed her support for his decision to return to Israel. Pacheco’s former employer informed them that there were already three employers waiting for him in Israel.

“We were very happy that, finally, he is here. It came to a point where we lost hope because I thought he was gone already. For 49 days, we failed to contact him. It was very sad. Our children were also asking about him. They knew everything,” Clarice said.

Pacheco initially returned to the Philippines in March 2023 but went back to Israel in June to continue working. Now, he plans to return again on February 1, 2024. He was one of over 200 people who were taken hostage by Hamas on the first day of the attacks on October 7, and he was among the 24 hostages released on November 24. Pacheco was abducted in Kibbutz Nir Oz, where he had been living while caring for his 80-year-old patient for five years.

Recalling his traumatic experience, Pacheco shared, “It was October 7 around 6:30 in the morning when we received an alert from Israel that there would be rockets. At first, I thought it’s not that bad because that’s normal in Israel, and I’m also near the border. Around 7:30, when I peeked through the window, I saw some of the terrorists already in our area. My employer told me to secure my life as he is already old and that he is used to wars. But I chose to stay with him until his last breath. He was killed in front of me. He was shot three times.”

Hans Leo Cacdac, the Migrant Workers Officer in Charge, assured Pacheco and his family of the government’s readiness to provide any necessary assistance, including livelihood support, as directed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. Cacdac stated, “Jimmy particularly asked for assistance in documentation he will need for his new employment. For that matter, whether locally or overseas, we will assist him with his documentation and his referrals.”

In a separate development, 33 distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and 17 children from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia received assistance packages upon their arrival in the Philippines on Monday. Each of them received P50,000 in cash assistance, along with an additional P5,000 for their children. The government also offered transportation to their respective provinces and hotel accommodations while they awaited their loved ones in Manila.

The group came from Bahay Kalinga, a temporary shelter for distressed OFWs established by the Migrant Workers Office in Riyadh and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA). OWWA noted that the group was the first to be granted a temporary exit visa. As part of the “Paskong Salubong para sa Bagong Bayani ng Bagong Pilipinas” program of the Department of Migrant Workers and the OWWA, the distressed OFWs and other arriving OFWs from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, were also given Christmas loot bags.

Source: The Manila Times

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