Passengers wait for their bags at the arrival area of Manila's International Airport. AP
Manolo B. Jara, Correspondent
Malacanang Palace on Friday backed down apparently from intense protests and announced that all overseas Filipinos are now allowed to return their homeland amid the alarming increase in coronavirus infections.
"All Filipino citizens, whether returning Filipinos or overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), are allowed to return to the Philippines," Harry Roque, the presidential spokesman, said in a media briefing.
This was also confirmed by Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, the chairman of the National Task Force Against COVID-19, who earlier ordered a month-long ban on foreigners and Filipino nationals except OFWs arriving in the country's major airports from March 22 to April 21.
Lorenzana admitted the order was a "mistake" following reports of intense protests from Filipinos who complained they would be stranded when they left for abroad either for a holiday or official business while the ban was not yet in effect.
Still other Filipinos (called "balikbayan" or expatriates) scheduled to to visit their families and relatives would also be affected by the ban, they complained.
But with the revision, the ban would now affect only foreigners, except members of the diplomatic community, families of Filipino diplomats as well as crew who are to meet their foreign vessels in Manila, according to officials.
Lorenzana earlier said he ordered the ban to help contain the spread of the virus from arrivals at the airports, who might have been infected especially by the more transmissible UK, South African and Brazilian variants.
Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives gave Secretary Silvestre Bello of the Department of Labour and Employment a severe verbal drubbing following revelations that he already talked with the UK ambassador to the Philippines on the issue.
The ban, Brigadier General IIdebrandi Usana said, will cover couples, close friends and family members engaged in public displays of affection like hugs, kisses, holding hands and embracing each other.
Lieutenant General Guillermo Eleazar, the head of the PNP Joint Task Force COVID Shield, said he already instructed all his police commanders and their men to conduct what would amount to an online patrol to find such violators.
The campaign comes as a grateful response to UAE’s COVID-19 vaccination programme, which recently crossed 10 million. It encourages all Filipino UAE residents to place a customised frame on their Facebook profile photos.
The UAE government affirmed that the UAE citizens have priority in being appointed to any of the vacant jobs in the federal authorities, adding that non-nationals can be appointed in case the citizen does not meet the conditions and requirements of the job.
The Iranian Jamaran news website identified the boy as 9-year-old Morteza Delf Zaregani. They spoke to the father who accused the police of not issuing any warning before shooting.
The UAE Government stated that a resident can obtain a residence visa for his wife and children, after submitting the marriage contract which must be certified in Arabic or translated into Arabic by a sworn and certified translator.