‘21 Days Before I Can Hug Him’: Kin Barred from Welcoming Arriving Peacekeepers

“Titiisin ko na lang po. Maghahantay na lang po ako ng 21 days para yakapin siya.”

This was the tearful statement of the daughter of one of the Filipino peacekeepers who will arrive home on Wednesday from Ebola-hit Liberia.

The military has barred families of the 133 peacekeepers from meeting them face to face upon their arrival as part of the government’s protocol on Filipinos arriving from countries with confirmed Ebola outbreak.

The peacekeepers, most of them soldiers, will be quarantined for three weeks in Caballo Island, a Philippine Navy installation at the mouth of Manila Bay, to ensure that the country remains free of the dreaded virus that has killed over 4,000 in West Africa.

In a report on “24 Oras” Tuesday night, the wife of one of the peacekeepers said they would comply with the order although with a heavy heart.

“Iba pa rin kasi yung makita mo siyang bababa ng eroplano, yung feel mo kung papaano mo talaga na-miss yung isang tao,” she said.

Instead of face-to-face meeting at the airport, the relatives of the peacekeepers could watch the arrival through a livestream at a museum inside the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City, according to Armed Forces public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc.

The museum is about a kilometer away from the Base Operations Center of the Villamor Air Base.

“They will not be allowed [to welcome the peacekeepers],” Cabunoc said of the relatives. “But they will be invited at the museum to watch the live coverage that would be aired by the Philippine Air Force and the media.”

“This is to maximize the safety of everybody, so that no one will be blamed. It’s an additional protocol suggested by our health practitioners,” he added.

From Villamor Air Base, the troops will board trucks that will take them to Sangley Point in Cavite, where they will board a Navy ship to Caballo Island.

The peacekeepers are considered “no risk” as they have passed an Ebola Screening Test conducted by United Nations medical staff last Saturday prior to their departure from Liberia.

They are scheduled to arrive at 5:45 p.m. aboard a UTair Aviation flight from Monrovia, Liberia.

(Source: Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News)

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