Some 30 peacekeepers sent by the Philippine National Police (PNP) to Liberia were honored by the United Nations (UN) before their scheduled departure to Manila. 108 of the 112 Philippine Peacekeeping Forces in Liberia are due to return tomorrow, Tuesday, being Ebola-free. Liberia is the worst-hit country with more than 6,500 cases, about half the current total of 13,000 across the worst affected part of West Africa.
According to Colonel Roberto Ancan, commanding officer of the Peacekeeping Operations Center in Tarlac, four Filipino peacekeepers will be left behind in Liberia for a few more days.
However, they will be put in quarantine on an isolated island on arrival this week to check for Ebola, the military said on Monday. The 21-day quarantine, on a navy-run island at the mouth of Manila Bay, was in line with World Health Organisation protocols and with government’s drive to remain Ebola free, military chief General Gregorio Catapang said. More precisely, 108 of the Filipino contingent would immediately be quarantined on the island upon their arrival in Manila on Tuesday.
Moreover, military authorities have assured they would provide recreational and medical facilities as well as personnel during their stay on Caballo Island, a 35-hectare island also known as Fort Hughes, which is maintained by the Philippine Navy.
“Our peacekeepers belong to no-risk category of the Ebola infection,” Catapang told a news conference at the main army base in Manila, two days before the arrival of 108 soldiers, 24 police and jail wardens from Monrovia. “Our troops have no direct contact with any Ebola victim. Their work is concentrated inside the force headquarters of the United Nations mission in Liberia.”Colonel
Ancan said he has sent to 250 generators to the island camp to ensure tht there will be electricity in the island during the peacekeepers’ stay. Ancan also said families of the 108 all-Air Force Philippine Peacekeeping Contingent to Liberia will be allowed to meet them when they arrive at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City in a chartered plane.
The military was worried about how the public would react to the peacekeepers’ return, army Major-General Domingo Tutaan told Reuters. In order to avoid panic, they would not be required to wear masks and protective gear upon their arrival.