A pro-migrant group is urging the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to review its travel and deployment ban on Guinea due to the Ebola virus following appeals by several OFWs there who want to come home during the holidays.
In a statement Tuesday, Susan Ople, head of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, a non-government organization that assists distressed OFWs, said some Filipinos in Guinea have left them a message on Facebook expressing worry over the travel ban and quarantine restrictions being imposed by the Philippine government.
"Our compatriots in Guinea are appealing to government for a review of the continuing travel ban and quarantine restrictions," said Ople, noting that the World Health Organization has said that the situation in Guinea has tremendously improved from a year ago.
One of these distressed OFWs, a chef named Arnold Sanciangco, wrote to the Center that the 21-day quarantine for travelers from Guinea will take up most of their 30-day holiday vacations in the Philippines and may even cost them their jobs.
"We would like to come home this Christmas but we are afraid that spending time with our families would also mean losing our jobs here in Guinea," the statement quoted Sanciangco as saying.
Ople, who is running for senator in the 2016 elections, said a possible lifting of the travel ban would maximize the OFWs' limited holiday time in the Philippines.
"They (OFWs) really want to spend Christmas with their families, and we owe it to them to at least explore such possibilities,” she said.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has officially lifted its recommendation to avoid nonessential travel to Guinea last November 25.
A temporary suspension on the processing and deployment of newly-hired OFWs to Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone was imposed by the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency in July 4, 2014.
POEA issued a total deployment ban for all Filipinos bound for these countries on December 8 last year and instructed the estimated 880 workers in Guinea and other countries to return to the Philippines.
Sierra Leone officially declared the Ebola epidemic over last November 8 after 42 days went by without new cases. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News