By Rey Panaligan
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Sunday that it is the Philippine government, not the International Court of Justice (ICJ), that can decide whether or not to impose a travel ban to foreign countries.
Guevarra reacted to reports that several Filipinos based in Hong Kong but who are currently stranded in the Philippines because of the travel ban have sent an appeal to the ICJ to allow them to return to Hongkong.
Hong Kong is a special administrative region (SAR) of China where the corona virus disease 2019 (COVID-19) reportedly originated and claimed more than 1,600 lives.
Guevarra pointed out that the ICJ is not the proper forum to hear the appeal of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) employed in Hong Kong but who are now stranded in the Philippines.
“The ICJ has no jurisdiction on matters like public health or migration that can be dealt with by national governments or by other more relevant international agencies,” Guevarra said.
“The decision to restrict foreign travel is the sole prerogative of national governments which should know what is best for their own people,” he stressed.
At the same time, Guevarra said that since the World Health Organization (WHO) is the international agency that has information on the current COVID-19 globally, “the WHO can give the necessary information on the global corona virus situation.”
In their appeal, it was reported that the OFWs working in Hong Kong said they will sign waivers because most of them are being dismissed by their Hong Kong employers for their failure to report for work.