OFWs take precedence over foreigners at ports of entry –DOT

Published July 21, 2020, 5:11 PM

by Hanah Tabios

Even with the approval of entry of foreign immigrants in the country, an official of the Department of Tourism (DOT) said the Philippine government will still prioritize repatriated Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) considering the quota imposed at the country’s ports of entry.

Department of Tourism – Philippines

“Dahil pinag-uusapan natin itong inbound na mga foreigners sa atin, ang kailangan din kasi nating tandaan na marami pa tayong mga kababayang mga OFWs na naghihintay na makauwi so sila talaga ang magiging priority. (Because we are talking about this inbound foreigners, we also have to note that we have a number of OFWs awaiting their trips back to the country so they are really the priority),” DOT Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr. said in a radio interview aired over Radyo Pilipinas.

This, after the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) released a  resolution which allows foreign nationals with long-term visas, including foreign immigrants and native-born foreign nationals, to enter the Philippines beginning August 1.

But Bengzon said there are conditions that must be met, including the required capacity of gateways, such as at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) which only allows an estimated 3,000 inbound passengers per day.

“Ganun pa man alam naman natin na yung mga foreign nationals na holder ng foreign visas gusto na rin makabalik ng Pilipinas at makasama yung pamilya nila (But we also know that these foreign nationals, who are holders of foreign visas, also want to return to the Philippines to be with their families),” he noted.

IATF Resolution 56 specifies that foreign nationals with long-term visas must have a valid and existing visa at the time of entry, stressing that no new entry visa application will be accepted.

Foreign immigrants must also make sure that they have pre-booked accredited quarantine facility or accommodation establishment which would take them in, as well as pre-booked COVID-19 testing provider prior to their arrival, according to IATF.

Bengzon stressed that the maximum number of inbound passengers shall not exceed the quota, which was also cited in the IATF resolution.

To recall, the national government also recently allowed outbound travel, provided that Filipinos exiting the country must meet the health and safety protocols set by their country of destination.