Photo has been used for illustrative purposes.
Manolo B. Jara, Correspondent
The Philippines on Tuesday included Taiwan in its expanded list of countries and territories covered by its travel ban arising from its determined move to help prevent the spread of the dreaded coronavirus (nCOV) that has already resulted in rising fears and alarm worldwide.
At least three of the country’s major airlines — Philippine Air Lines, Cebu Pacific and Air Asia — announced they would stop their flights to Taiwan effective on Tuesday “until further notice” mainly for the health of their passengers.
Taiwanese officials immediately protested and said they would ask the Philippine government to reconsider its decision, citing reports that many of its nationals have been stranded by the ban.
Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo confirmed the order covered Taiwan as part of the Duterte administration’s order issued in early February for the imposition of a travel ban from China as well as Hong Kong and Macau, its two special administrative regions.
Under the order, passengers arriving in Manila would be allowed entry if they are Filipino ciiizens or foreigners granted permanent residency permits but on condition they would undergo a 14-day quarantine.
Domingo explained Taiwanese nationals are covered by the ban because the Philippines and the World Health Organization (WHO) consider Taiwan as part of the People’s Republic of China.
“As far as the health community is concerned and the WHO is concerned, Taiwan is part of China,” Domingo told a media briefing, adding that the Philippines, like other countries in the world, has recognized the “one-China policy.”
Although they have no formal diplomatic relations, the Philippines and Taiwan have maintained “offices” to take care of their trade and economic relations as well as their visiting nationals and workers.
Data showed that more than 150,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are deployed in Taiwan, most of whom are working in factories as well as domestic helpers.
Reports also said that Taiwan played host to more than 400,000 Filipinos who flew in as tourists in 2020. And so with Taiwanese who also compose a significant slice in the Philippine tourism industry.
At the same time, Domingo reported that a total of 49 people under monitoring (PUMs) are undergoing quarntine at the Athletes Village in the town of Capas, Tarlac province in Central which had been used in the recent Southeast Asian Games hosted by the Philippines.
Thirty two of them are repatriated OFWs from Wuhan, the capital city of Hubei in China, the epicenter of the dreaded ailment, and composed of 14 femailes and 18 males,who arrived by chartered plane on Sunday, Domingo reported.
China is using mainland tourists as “political tools” and the move would create antipathy in Taiwanese people, Tsai told reporters in Taipei.
The countries imposed with total travel ban include Botswana, Brazil, Colombia, Comoros, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Peru, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia.
The ban was introduced last year to limit the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on employment and the economy in general. President Tayyip Erdogan has the authority to extend it by at most three months each time until mid-2021.
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