A great cause for celebration — DOT
FILIPINOS’ foreign spouses, balikbayans, and their families may enter the Philippines starting December 7, Malacañang announced on Friday.
“Also permitted is the entry of former Filipino citizens, including their spouses and children, regardless of age, who are traveling with them,” it said in a statement.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) Resolution No. 85, signed on November 27, states that starting Dec. 7, they are allowed to enter the country provided they pre-booked a quarantine facility and undergo COVID-19 testing at a laboratory operating at the airport.
“They, too, must be subject to the maximum capacity of inbound passengers at the port and date of entry,” it added.
The Bureau of Immigration is directed to formulate guidelines to ensure the policy’s smooth implementation.
The Department of Tourism (DOT), meanwhile, was tasked to issue separate guidelines to provide sufficient accommodation for these foreign nationals taking into account the release of test results.
For the DOT, the IATF’s move was a welcome development for the travel industry, which was among the industries hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic following suspensions in international flights.
“This not only bodes well for our ailing industry but is good tidings for our kababayans who have been clamoring to be reunited with their loved ones from abroad, especially this yuletide season,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.
The tourism chief said balikbayans or former Filipino citizens are considered as a viable source market to the country’s tourism sector, particularly the second and third generation dependents who have yet to discover their parents’ roots.
“The Filipino diaspora to date, has reached about 10 million. That is why we deem important the Filipino communities abroad as staunch partners in driving visitors to the Philippines,” she said in a statement.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said that allowing entry of balikbayans or former Filipino citizens into the country during the holidays is a great cause for celebration for millions of families who long for the homecoming of their relatives abroad.
The said resolution, signed on November 26, provides that, ”Starting December 7, 2020, the following may be allowed entry privileges under Republic Act No. 6768 or the “Act Instituting the Balikbayan Program”:
a) Filipino citizens’ foreign spouses and children, regardless of age, who are travelling with them;
b) Former Filipino citizens, including their spouses and children, regardless of age, who are travelling with them.
The entry of these persons shall be subject to the following conditions:
a) they are allowed visa-free entry under Executive Order No. 408, s. 1960;
b) with pre-booked quarantine facility;
c) with pre-booked COVID-19 testing at a laboratory operating at the airport; and
d) subject to the maximum capacity of inbound passengers at the port and date of entry.
The IATF also directed the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to formulate the necessary guidelines to ensure smooth implementation while the DOT has been tasked to issue the necessary guidelines for the provision of sufficient accommodation taking into account the release of test results.