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Filipino Among Hostages Freed by Hamas

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Saturday confirmed Filipino national Gelienor “Jimmy” Pacheco was among the first batch of hostages freed by Palestinian militant group Hamas.

Marcos said the 33-year-old Pacheco is now in the custody of the Philippine Embassy in Israel.

“I am overjoyed to confirm that a Filipino, Mr. Gelienor ‘Jimmy’ Pacheco, was among the first group of 24 hostages released by Hamas yesterday,” Marcos said on his official X (formerly Twitter) account.

Pacheco’s wife, Clarice Joy, thanked friends and loved ones who supported them.

“Finally ‘hon, God is good talaga. Thank you so much po sa lahat ng nagdasal para sa kanya, sa amin…Sa lahat po ng mga tumulong sa amin mula umpisa, big thanks po to all!” she said in a Facebook post.

[Translation: Finally ‘hon, God is really good. Thank you so much to all who prayed for him, for us…To all who helped us since the beginning, big thanks to all!]

“Let’s pray that all the hostages left will [be] released soon. I feel their family, [it’s] not that easy. Just keep fighting,” she added.

The Israeli Embassy in Manila said Pacheco, a caregiver and father of three, is undergoing medical evaluation at Shamir Medical Center in Israel.

Pacheco went missing on Oct. 7, the day Hamas launched an attack on Israel.

The hostages were released under a deal between Israel and Hamas, which brought a temporary halt to fighting in Gaza.

In a statement from the Philippine Embassy in Israel, Pacheco said God and his family kept him strong during his abduction.

Kaya lang ako buhay dahil sa Panginoon. Kahit noong unang araw pa lang na nakuha ako, iniiisip ko talaga ang pamilya ko,” Pacheco said. “ Habang nandoon ako, gusto ko lang mabuhay para sa pamilya ko.”

[Translation: I am alive because of God. Since the first day of my abduction, I thought of my family. While I was there, my only wish was to survive for my family.]

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Enrique Manalo thanked the government of Qatar for its mediation efforts in the release of Pacheco and other captives.

The DFA also thanked Israel for the assistance provided to Pacheco’s family.

“We also thank the governments of Egypt and Iran for their invaluable assistance on this matter and hope for their continued support,” the department added.

The DFA said Pacheco’s release is the “fruit of all the diplomatic representations” undertaken by the country.

Department of Migrant Workers officer-in-charge Hans Leo Cacdac assured that Pacheco and his family will receive aid from the government.

Marcos, meanwhile, expressed concern over another Filipino believed to be still in the hands of the militants.

“We remain concerned over the whereabouts of our other national, Ms. Noralyn Babadilla, and are sparing no effort to locate and secure her if she is indeed found to be one of the hostages,” Marcos said.

The president assured Filipinos in Israel and their families in the Philippines that the government is monitoring the situation in war-torn areas and coordinating with international counterparts to ensure their welfare and safety.

Source : CNN Philippines