Sotto lauds BI’s suspension of VUAs for Chinese tourists as part of n-CoV prevention

Published January 28, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senate President Vicente Sotto III lauded on Tuesday the Bureau of Immigration’s (BI) decision to suspend the issuance of visas on arrival (VUAs) to Chinese tourists amid serious threats of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak.

Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto III gestures after elected as a newly Senate President at Senate Building in Pasay city, May 21,2018.(Czar Dancel)
Senate President Vicente Sotto III

Sotto described the BI’s move as “good news” as he stressed the need for a “more proactive” stance by the government to prevent the infection from entering the Philippines.

“The rising global threat of the novel coronavirus is something that we cannot look at with a cavalier attitude. The risks at stake are high and we need to act expeditiously to make sure that our country remains virus-free,” Sotto said in a statement sent to reporters.

“The decision of the Bureau of Immigration temporarily stopping the issuance of VUA especially for Chinese visitors is the best step towards controlling the entry of this virus in our country.”

Senator Joel Villanueva also called on the government to implement preventive measures against the 2019-nCoV.

He supported the proposal of Sen. Francis Pangilinan to implement a preemptive ban on Chinese national coming from Wuhan, China, where the 2019-nCoV was reported to have originated.

“Kung ang mismong bansang Tsina, nilo-lockdown nila ‘yong kanilang bansa, kanilang syudad, bakit hindi natin gawin din, ‘di ba? Parang one plus one po ang tingin ko po d’yan (If China has placed itself, its own cities, on lockdown, why don’t we do it here, too, right? To me, that is as simple as one plus one),” Villanueva said in an interview.

As health officials maintain that there are no confirmed cases of the 2019-nCoV infection yet in the Philippines, Villanueva said, “Mas maganda na nag-iingat tayo, preventive pa din (It would be better if we are careful, that we still take a preventive approach).”

“Kung ano man ‘yong mga hakbangin na pwedeng gawin ng ating pamahalaan para masigurong protektado tayong lahat dito, then let’s do it (Whatever steps that the government can take to make sure that we are all protected here, then let’s do it),” he added.

Meanwhile, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Undersecretary Sarah Arriola said the agency is currently coordinating with their counterparts in China and other countries with confirmed cases of the virus to assist overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Arriola, in a hearing of the Senate labor committee on Tuesday, said they cannot just repatriate Filipinos from nCoV-affected areas so as not to compromise the Philippines. China, she added, is also “very adamant” about allowing people to go in or out of the affected areas.

She told senators that the DFA is deferring to the Department of Health’s recommendations in coming up with protocols on how to respond to the 2019-nCoV, and the possible quarantine of OFWs who would be sent home.

The DFA official said that in the meantime, they are addressing the needs of Filipinos abroad by providing them with masks, in addition to other measures, to prevent them from becoming infected.