Malacañang is not happy with Malaysia’s order to block the entry of Filipino citizens to their country starting Monday but said it respects this decision made by another sovereign nation.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after Malaysia restricted the entry of Indian, Indonesian, and Filipino citizens with long-term passes, students, expatriates, permanent residents as well as family members of Malaysians.
Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin was quoted by the Bangkok Post on Friday saying the decision was made to extend its measures to curb the COVID-19 pandemic until the end of the year.
Defense Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob noted that the Philippines is followed by Indonesia in having the largest number of COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia, while India is grappling with total infections nearing 4 million.
In his Thursday presser, Roque said the Palace respects Malaysia’s decision while finding it regrettable.
“Well, that’s a sovereign decision (on) who will be allowed to enter one’s territory,” he said.
“I’m not saying we’re happy. I’m saying we regret the decision but we respect the sovereign decision of Malaysia,” he added.
Ismail added that Malaysia’s government will continue to monitor the situation and may widen the restrictions if virus cases rise in more countries.
To date, the Philippines has recorded a total of 226,440 COVID-19 cases, 3,623 of whom died while 158,610 recovered.
The entire country is still under quarantine, with Metro Manila being under the general community quarantine (GCQ) until September 30.