Palace defends decision allowing foreigners with long-term visas Philippine entry amid concern they are COVID-19 carriers
Malacañang defended on Monday the decision to allow foreigners with long-term visas to enter the country, saying those people are considering the Philippines as their home.
In a virtual press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said not all foreigners who are visa holders could enter the country.
"Who are those (allowed to enter)? Those permanent residence of the Philippine. Those who have what we call as special investors visa, those who have what we call as retirees visa, those who have long-term work visa being given to foreigners. They are already living in the Philippines," he said.
"The rationale there is, of course, we are allowing the return of foreigners who are living in the Philippines and considering already the Philippines as their home," he added.
The Department of Justice said there were 75,000 foreigners with long-term visas in the Philippines. Of the number, about 15,000 were stranded abroad due to lockdown imposed by different countries, including the Philippines due to coronavirus disease pandemic.
There were concerns that these foreigners who would return to the country could be COVID-19 carriers.
But Roque reiterated the conditions set by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases before they are allowed entry.
He cited that returning foreigners with long-term visas need to follow quarantine protocol while waiting for the result of the polymerase chain reaction test.
Roque also said priority is given to returning overseas Filipinos, thus, the entry of foreigners daily is still limited.
The IATF decided late last week to allow the entry of foreigners with existing long-term visas starting August 1.
The government barred foreigners from entering the Philippines since it imposed a lockdown in Luzon, including Metro Manila, last March.
Those only allowed to enter the country during the lockdown were foreign spouses and children of Filipino nationals and foreign diplomats. Celerina Monte/DMS