Only Filipino citizens, whether natural-born, naturalized, or dual citizen, can be allowed to enter the Philippines during the pandemic, the Philippine Consulate General’s offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles, California said Thursday.
The advisory came following reports that some Filipino-Americans who are traveling to the Philippines using their United States passports have been reportedly turned away by airlines.
To be able to travel back to the Philippines, the two consulates said Filipino citizens must bring with them either their valid Philippine passport or a valid one-way travel document, an option normally issued to certain individuals in emergency cases.
During the pandemic, the Philippine government prohibits the entry of all foreign passport holders to the country, a temporary measure that will be lifted at an appropriate time when determined by authorities to be safe.
The consulates also clarified that those who reacquired or retained their Philippine citizenship via Republic Act 9225, the Citizenship Retention and Reacquisition Act of 2003 (as dual), is still considered a Filipino and can travel back to the Philippines using a Philippine passport or valid Travel Document.
In the absence of those two documents, a dual citizen traveling to the country may present the following documents in lieu of a Philippine passport: Original copy of Identification Certificate (IC); Original copy of the Order of Approval; and Original copy of the Oath of Allegiance.
Meanwhile, a ‘balikbayan’ (returning Filipino) is defined as a former Filipino who lost his or her citizenship by naturalization in a foreign country or other similar modes of losing Philippine citizenship.
The consulates pointed out that by definition, “a balikbayan is not a Filipino citizen” unless he reacquires Filipino citizenship under RA 9225. Only until he reacquires his Filipino citizenship will he be entitled to a Philippine passport or travel document.
Before the pandemic, balikbayans were able to enter the Philippines even with a foreign passport.
Meanwhile, foreign passport holders who are spouses or children of Filipino citizens can enter the Philippines when traveling together with the Filipino spouse or parents.
The LA-based Filipino Law Group advised its clients and other Filipinos in the United States to ask their airlines first about the requirements before purchasing or confirming their flights.
“This is an important announcement to avoid inconvenience among many Filipino-Americans from different states around the US, who have traveled to Los Angeles or San Francisco, only to find out they cannot board the plane,” the group said in a post on social media.
At the onset of the imposition of the enhanced community quarantine in March 2020, the Philippine government, through the Inter-Agency Task Force, imposed travel restrictions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.