Manila backs down, allows entry of all Filipinos abroad - GulfToday

Manila backs down, allows entry of all Filipinos abroad


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.

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