MANILA, Philippines (Nov. 5, 2014) — The military has dropped its initial plan to quarantine in Tarlac Filipino peacekeepers from Ebola-hit Liberia, and will instead put them on a “paradise island” in Luzon.
Armed Forces public affairs chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc declined to specify where the Philippine peacekeeping contingent would be isolated, citing an order from his superiors.
“They will be isolated. The chief of staff has decided to put them in a secluded place. It will be an island paradise but I cannot disclose the exact location for now,” Cabunoc told reporters yesterday in Camp Aguinaldo.
Cabunoc said they are now preparing the area where the peacekeepers would be quarantined. He said coordination with the local government has been made to ensure the safety of the residents in the island.
Members of the 110-strong peacekeeping contingent are scheduled to return home on Nov. 11.
Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Catapang Jr. earlier said Filipino peacekeepers from Liberia would be brought to the Armed Forces Peacekeeping Operations Center in Capas upon their return.
The Peacekeeping Operations Center is located in Camp O’Donnell, which also serves as the home of the Mechanized Infantry Division and Training and Doctrine Command.
The military’s plan, however, was greeted with protests by local officials and business groups who are concerned about its possible effects on the town’s health, business and tourism.
The local government of Capas has issued resolutions formally opposing the plan.
Cabunoc could not say whether the decision to isolate the peacekeepers in a secluded island is a result of the local government’s protests.
“I could not speculate on that,” he said.
The Philippines has decided to pull out its peacekeepers in Liberia because of the outbreak of the Ebola virus, which has swept through West Africa and has left about 4,900 persons dead.
Officials have given assurances that they are doing everything to prevent the entry of the deadly virus in the country.
The Department of Health (DOH) assured the public that there is no reason to fear overseas Filipino workers returning home from Ebola-affected countries. - PhilStar
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