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‘Unfortunate misunderstanding:’ House official barred from boarding Saudi-bound plane

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

House Minority Floor Leader Bienvenido Abante has been barred by authorities in Dubai from boarding a commercial flight bound for Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

In a statement, Abante said he was in Dubai en route to Jeddah, “on an official trip” when he was informed by an airline representative that he would not be allowed to board his connecting flight to Jeddah.

According to Abante, the restriction was “due to guidelines issued by the Saudi government prohibiting the entry of Filipino nationals possessing tourist visas.”

Abante stressed that although he is aware that these travel restrictions are in place to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus, “government functionaries on official trips are not covered by this ban.”

The House official insisted that he was on an “official travel,” bearing “a diplomatic passport and a travel authority issued by the House of Representatives.”

He said he understands and respects the precautions being undertaken by governments worldwide to protect their populations from this disease but urged the Department of Foreign Affairs to “clarify matters regarding this unfortunate misunderstanding.”

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