No-fly, no-sail zone at Caballo Island where peacekeepers are quarantined for Ebola
MANILA, Philippines—Call it security overkill, but the Philippine Navy (PN) is not taking any chances to ensure the safety of the 108 Filipino peacekeepers who returned Wednesday from Ebola virus-stricken Liberia.
The Navy, which is maintaining Caballo island where the peacekeepers start their 21-day quarantine on Thursday (Nov. 13), is enforcing a no-fly zone and no-sail zone for mariners and civilians 1,000 yards off the shore.
The peacekeepers were immediately brought by ship to the island upon touchdown of their United Nations-chartered Russian flight at the Villamor Air Base on Wednesday for the mandatory quarantine. They were earlier cleared of Ebola infection by UN health officials.
Families and relatives of the peacekeepers were kept at the Air Force museum on Wednesday, to prevent them from making physical contact with the peacekeepers upon arrival.
Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ public affairs office, said that AFP Chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang left it to the Navy officials to secure the island and the peacekeepers.
Commander Edgard Arevalo, Navy spokesperson, said the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines would implement the no-fly zone in Caballo island while the Philippine Navy would ensure water security 1,000 yards before reaching the Caballo island.
He said the Navy would coordinate with the Philippine Coast Guard in giving notice to all mariners to avoid the area.
Arevalo justified the strict security arrangement made on the island.
“The fact being Caballo island is a Philippine naval facility (Naval Station Caballo), there is a restriction only with respect to overflight elevation and the distance to be no closer than 1,000 yards from the naval facility,” Arevalo said.
“This is not, therefore, an absolute prohibition,” he said.
Catapang has ordered Task Group Liberia, a contingent of soldiers tasked among others with securing the arriving troops, to provide recreational and medical facilities to the peacekeepers while they are isolated from the general population.
The facility is also equipped with cable TV and Internet facility to enable peacekeepers to contact their loved ones.
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