By Jun Ramirez
The Bureau of Immigration (BI) announced the lifting of the travel ban for Filipino overseas workers, students, and permanent residents bound for Hong Kong and Macau.
BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infections Diseases (IATF-EID) has recommended the lifting of the departure travel ban, adding that “this is a welcome development for our kababayan (countrymen) who wish to return to their work abroad.”
The lifting, according to Morente, covers all Filipino nationals who are holders of working visas, student visas, and permanent resident visas both in Hong Kong and Macau.
He said the ban on Filipinos going to both regions in China as tourists is still in effect.
Morente said the lifting is an expansion of an earlier directive allowing members of the diplomatic corps to enter the country from those areas in China.
He explained that the lifting of the travel ban also allows the entry of Filipino nationals including their foreign spouses and children.
Meanwhile, BI clarified its role in implementing the travel ban.
The clarification stemmed from a complaint on social media about an overseas Filipino worker based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) who was not allowed to return to the UAE because they had been in Taiwan six days before departure.
Taiwan was previously included in the travel ban imposed by the government, a ban that was lifted last Feb. 14.
According to Morente, the Feb. 2 directive on the travel ban of President Duterte specifically states that a mandatory fourteen-day quarantine for Filipinos and permanent resident visa holders coming from any place in China and its special administrative regions is required.
“While it is the Bureau of Quarantine who implements this measure, it is the BI who can determine who fall under this category and is duty-bound to implement the directive,” he clarified.
“This is a measure best seen by the (IATF-)EID and the government to prevent the further spread of the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease),” Morente added.