By Jun Ramirez
Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner Jaime Morente announced Monday night the expansion of the travel ban to include tourists from Taiwan to contain the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus Acute Respiratory Disease (2019-nCoV ARD).
“We have confirmed with the Department of Justice, which is our mother department, that Taiwan is indeed included in the expanded travel ban,” Morente stated.
Last February 2, the BI implemented an order from President Rodrigo Duterte in banning all foreign nationals coming from China, as well as its Special Administrative Regions.
In the said order, any passenger of any nationality who has been to China, Hong Kong, and Macau within 14 days before coming to the Philippines shall automatically be denied entry.
Only Filipino citizens and aliens with permanent resident visas from the said countries may be allowed entry.
According to the BI, permanent resident aliens are those who were issued immigrant visas under the Philippine immigration act, those who are residents following the alien legalization program under EO 324 or the alien social integration program under RA 7919, holders of native born visas; aliens who acquired permanent resident status by reasons of marriage to a Filipino, and aliens with approved refugee status.
Different agencies sought clarification if Taiwan is included in the ban.
“While not explicitly stated, we have confirmed with the Secretary of Justice that Taiwan is indeed part of the ban, and this expansion shall be implemented immediately,” said Morente.
Under the guidelines, if a foreign passenger not exempted from the ban is encountered at the ports, he or she shall automatically be denied entry and returned to his port of origin.
Filipinos and aliens who are exempted from the ban shall be turned over to the Bureau of Quarantine for their assessment, together with a copy of their arrival cards.
Filipinos are likewise temporarily not allowed to leave for China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan unless they are part of a government delegation conducting official duties, a member of the World Health Organization, and other agencies involved in fighting or containing the 2019 nCoV-ARD.
Morente stressed that the measure is temporary.
“We are implementing the directive of President Duterte, following the recommendations of the Department of Health,” said Morente.