People who enter the Philippines on a Republic of China passport are required to present a travel history when applying for a visa, despite Manila lifting a travel ban it imposed on Taiwanese amid the COVID-19 outbreak, the Manila Economic and Cultural Office said yesterday.
As part of efforts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Philippine government on Feb. 10 announced the inclusion of Taiwan in an earlier travel ban that restricted the entry of foreign travelers from China and its special administrative regions.
The ban on Taiwan was lifted on Friday by the Philippines’ Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases after it was determined that Taiwan had implemented strict travel protocols.
However, the office said its public advisory issued on Feb. 4, before Taiwan was included in the ban, is in effect for Philippine visa applications.
“Taiwanese travelers still have to submit an Entry and Exit Record issued by Taiwan’s National Immigration Agency when applying for a visa to enter the Philippines,” said Gerry de Belen, director of the administrative services at the office.
This is part of its protocol to safeguard the Philippines from the coronavirus and one of the major factors considered by the inter-agency taskforce before it lifted the travel ban on Taiwan, De Belen said.
The Entry and Exit Record should contain a list of countries the applicant visited in the 21 days preceding their visit to the Philippines, as the foreign nationals who have traveled to China, including Hong Kong and Macau, within that period are still barred from entering, the advisory says.
Failure to submit an Entry and Exit Record might result in the denial of a visa application without a refund of the processing fee, the advisory says.
The Entry and Exit Record is necessary, as Philippine immigration officials are unable to determine whether a Republic of China passport holder has been to China, Hong Kong or Macau, because China uses a Mainland Travel Permit for Taiwan Residents to enter those areas, rather than passports, the office said.
For other foreign applicants for Philippine visas, office staff would check the entry and exit stamps in their passports to ensure compliance with the Philippines’ travel ban, the office said.
Meanwhile, Philippine citizens are now allowed to visit Taiwan, De Belen said, adding that in general, they would not be required to undergo a 14-day quarantine or isolation upon their return home unless they have symptoms of COVID-19 infection.
However, some local governments in the Philippines might have their own quarantine protocols, he said.
Media reports have said that 78 Filipinos arriving from Taiwan on Thursday were placed under 14-day isolation at an undisclosed government facility in Cebu City.
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