Travel ban on Indonesia not 'late', says Palace

Published July 15, 2021, 2:26 PM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Malacañang said the Philippines was not late in imposing restrictions on travelers coming from Indonesia, citing the small number of travelers entering the country from Indonesia over the past four months.

File photo (Ali Vicoy/Manila Bulletin)

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after President Duterte approved the travel restrictions for all travelers coming from Indonesia from July 16 to 31, 2021 to prevent the further spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) variants in the country.

In his press briefing on Thursday, July 15, Roque addressed criticisms that the government acted “too late” in imposing the restrictions on Indonesia.

“Hindi naman po too late ‘yan kasi meron naman po tayong datos ng mga dumarating na mga pasahero galing Indonesia (We were not too late because we have data on the passengers coming from Indonesia),” he said.

“Unang-una wala po tayong turismo at wala rin po tayong business visas except for the long-term investor’s visas na in-issue natin (First of all, we don’t have tourism yet and we don’t have business visas except for the long-term investor’s visa that we have issued),” he added.

According to Roque, there were only 724 travelers from Indonesia who entered the Philippines from April to July this year.

“So maliit po ‘yan at lahat po ‘yan ay dumaan naman po sa 10 araw na facility quarantine (that’s just a small number and all of them underwent 10 days of facility quarantine),” he said.

“So hindi naman po [too late] dahil limitado din talaga yung mga pumasok galing Indonesia (So we were not too late because we only had a limited number of travelers coming in from Indonesia),” he added.

The country’s travel restrictions on Indonesia were imposed to “prevent the further spread and community transmission of COVID-19 variants in the Philippines.” The travel ban will start on July 16, 2021, at 12:01 a.m. until July 31, 2021, at 11:59 p.m.

Passengers already in transit from Indonesia, and all those who have been there within 14 days immediately and will arrive before July 16, may still be allowed to enter the country but will be required to undergo a full 14-day facility quarantine notwithstanding a negative Reverse Transcription – Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) result.

The travel ban does not cover Filipinos returning to the country if they will be part of government-initiated repatriation programs, or of non-government repatriation programs and special commercial flights allowed under existing resolutions of the government’s pandemic task force.

Meanwhile, passengers merely transiting through Indonesia shall not be deemed as having come from or having been to the said country as long as they only stayed in the airport the entire time and were not cleared entry by its immigration authorities.

Those transiting passengers will not be required to complete a 14-day facility-based quarantine but will be compelled to comply with existing testing and quarantine protocols of the national government.