MANILA, Philippines — Starting next month, foreign nationals with existing long-term visas especially permanent residents will be allowed entry to the Philippines.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has issued Resolution No. 56 easing restrictions for the entry of foreigners – but on certain conditions, presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said yesterday.
“They must first have valid and existing visas at the time of the entry. This means no new entry visa shall be accepted,” he said.
Returning overseas Filipinos would be given priority, read the resolution signed by Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei Nograles and Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu. The three officials share the chairmanship of the task force.
Roque maintained that foreigners would still need to undergo swab testing upon arrival and await results in a quarantine area.
“They are not just ordinary foreigners, they consider the Philippines as their second home since they are permanent residents,” Roque said in Filipino over state-run PTV-4.
Regulations also require foreign nationals to secure pre-booked accredited quarantine facility and pre-booked COVID-19 testing provider.
“The foregoing is without prejudice to applicable immigration laws, rules and regulations,” the IATF said in its resolution.
In a related development, the National Task Force (NTF) on COVID-19 has directed the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) to notify aviation authorities of the increase in inbound international passenger capacity at three international airports.
In a letter to CAAP director general Capt. Jim Sydiongco, NTF chairman and defense chief Delfin Lorenzana said they have allowed the gradual increase in daily passenger capacity of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA), and Clark International Airport (CIA), taking into consideration the three airports’ COVID-19 testing capacities.
NAIA will now be allowed to accept additional 3,000 inbound international passengers daily, while MCIA and CIA will have 1,500 daily international passenger restriction.
The Palace also announced that the IATF has authorized the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), in consultation with the Department of Finance, Department of the Interior and Local Government, and Department of Tourism, to re-categorize certain industries in preparation for resumption of their operations.
The DTI is given authority by the IATF to issue a list of industries that shall remain prohibited even in areas under MGCQ.
“These recent actions of the IATF are in compliance with the directive to ensure the increase of the capacities of the business sector vis-à-vis available transportation to revitalize the economy in Metro Manila and Region IV-A,” Roque said.
Meanwhile, Immigration acting spokesman Melvin Mabulac said the bureau is ready to accept foreign nationals coming into the country although there is no directive yet from from the IATF.
“We have not yet received the new IATF resolution, but the BI is ready to implement it including the conditions stated in the resolution,” Mabulac said, referring to guidelines allowing entry to foreign nationals with long-term visas.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said there will be a staggered implementation of the new IATF resolution to ensure that the repatriation of overseas Filipino workers will not be affected.
Guevarra said that foreign nationals with immigrant visas who were stuck abroad are the first batch of foreigners to be allowed to enter the Philippines beginning next month.
“Non-immigrant visa holders, such as tourists, will have to wait until the public health situation substantially improves,” Guevarra, a member of the IATF, said while giving assurance that the foreigners will undergo “very stringent” health protocols. Robertzon Ramirez, Richmond Mercurio, Louella Desiderio, Rudy Santos
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