Expats shocked as Philippines bans all travellers from UAE

Filipino expats suggest vaccinated people and those who lost their jobs should be allowed to travel

  
Airline travelers wait to clear immigration control at the Dubai International Airport in the United Arab Emirates. Image used for illustrative purpose.

Airline travelers wait to clear immigration control at the Dubai International Airport in the United Arab Emirates. Image used for illustrative purpose.

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When the Philippines announced a ban on travellers from the UAE on Thursday, Filipina Jenilyn Volante — who is six months pregnant — panicked.

Volante was supposed to go home for good on May 25 as she lost her job nine months ago and her visit visa was set to expire on May 27. “I don’t know what to do. I’m giving birth in a few months and I don’t have health insurance. I can’t afford to deliver my baby here,” she told Khaleej Times.

The Philippines has added the UAE, as well as Oman, to its travel ban list, which includes India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

Until May 31, all travellers from the Emirates — including those with travel history to the country within the last 14 days — shall not be allowed entry into the Philippines, according to a statement released by presidential spokesperson Harry Roque late on Thursday.

Roque said the decision was taken upon the recommendation of the Department of Health and the Department of Foreign Affairs, as part of efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19.

When Volante learnt about the news, she still had a day to hop on a flight and go home. “But all seats on flights were already fully booked,” said the Filipina, who had to spend Dh6,200 for one-way tickets for her and her husband just to fly to Manila before her visa’s expiration. Now, the tickets had been cancelled.

Several other Filipino expats, who were hoping to go on a summer vacation back home, were shocked and disappointed.

“It is an unfortunate development. Summer has already started in the Philippines and many Filipinos who were not able to go home during Christmas were looking to reunite with their families,” said Jerome Lagunzad, who works at a perfume manufacturing company in Dubai.

“The decision of the (Philippine) government caught Filipinos by surprise. For example, if I was planning to take a 30-day vacation, then I will have to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine. So, I think it is not logical to go home at the moment. So, whatever plans people had, now they will have to reschedule it,” he added.

Lagunzad was of the view that vaccinated people should have been allowed to travel. “The UAE, especially, is one of the best countries in terms of vaccination. The vaccination programme here is way ahead of most of the countries in the world. So, they should probably reconsider the decision.”

Cherry Ann Gutang Balse, whose plan to go home in May is now in limbo, appealed for leniency for those whose visas are about to expire.

“There should have been exemptions. The Philippine authorities should allow the entry of those who are supposed to go home for good because they lost their jobs. Imagine, these Filipinos will still have to pay rent and buy food but they no longer have the income,” Balse said.

 

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