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      23rd July 2014, XXXVII/125
News Details » LOCAL
Manila ban on Bahrain passengers

AROUND 120 Bahrain-based residents were not allowed to board a flight home from Manila yesterday as a result of an order issued by the Philippines Bureau of Immigration.

Most of the stranded passengers had been on holiday and found themselves stuck at Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

The order bans Filipinos from travelling to Bahrain on safety grounds, following a series of protests in Manama during the last 11 days.

"Airport officials denied us permission to check in at the airline counter," said Gulf Air passenger Laura Aqino, 34. "They said there was an order by authorities preventing our departure to Bahrain because of the unrest."

She told the GDN from the airport that several Filipino workers employed in Bahrain had also been left stranded at the airport.

Sheela Anilisa Conzin, 30, a photographer working in Bahrain who was on vacation in Manila was also barred from boarding a flight home.

"There has to be some arrangements made by airlines or officials as we are caught in the middle with no options," she said.

"The airline is asking us to pay extra money for changing the dates of our travel. They should show some consideration in view of the current situation in Bahrain."

The GDN later learned that more than 120 passengers were given open tickets by Gulf Air and will be allowed to travel when Manila lifts ban order on the departure of Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

The Philippines Embassy has been flooded with calls from Bahraini employers inquiring about the status of workers, who did not return.

"We have informed Manila authorities that Bahrain is safe and all Filipinos are safe," said Ambassador Corazon Yap-Bahjin.

"But the visuals on television convey a picture of fear. There are several people calling to inquire but we cannot do anything as the travel advisory is by the Philippines government. They are following necessary protocols."

The embassy is advising Filipinos in Bahrain with plans to travel to Manila not to cancel them as she expects the situation to be resolved soon. Ms Yap-Bahjin revealed evacuation plans were in place for its nationals in case the situation worsens.

"We have plans for all countries in the Middle East to evict our compatriots," she said. "But at this stage the situation is stable.

"I would also like all OFWs to register at the embassy by bringing their passports and CPRs rather than (only) showing up during an emergency."

The envoy added 185 OFWs left for Bahrain on Tuesday despite the ban by Manila on deployment to certain Middle East countries.

"We are open 24-hours to receive complaints and inquiries even on weekends," she said.

Meanwhile, Filipinos have been urged not to join in any demonstrations after the Philippines Embassy received information that anti-government protesters had invited expats, including Filipinos, to join their rallies.

Three hotline numbers are available for Filipinos in Bahrain: 17721234, 17740951 and 17721903.

sandy@gdn.com.bh

 
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