DFA warns vs ‘travel exemption fee’ scam targeting foreigners

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 11, 2020   •   480

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday warned the public against a travel fee scam targeting foreign nationals who wish to enter the Philippines amid imposed travel restrictions.

In an advisory the DFA said they received reports of a “travel exemption fee” that supposedly allows the entry of foreign nationals into the country.

The DFA reiterated that it does not collect such fees “or any kind of fee whatsoever for the purpose of allowing foreign nationals to enter the country.”

“Foreign nationals should be guided by the latest advisory of the Bureau of Immigration as to who are allowed to enter the Philippines during the State of Public Health Emergency,” the advisory reads.

The foreign affairs department also said travel restrictions are still being implemented in the country amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. AAC

DFA consular offices in NCR, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal on skeleton force under MECQ

Marje Pelayo   •   April 12, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The consular offices of the Department of Foreign Affairs in the National Capital Region and in the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal will have skeleton work teams beginning Monday (April 12) for the duration of the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) to attend to emergency or urgent cases only.

Specifically, this setup takes effect in consular offices in Metro Manila (including the Office of Consular Affairs in Aseana, Parañaque City), Antipolo, Dasmariñas, Malolos and San Pablo City.

The DFA reminds the public that passport and authentication appointments affected by the ECQ and MECQ declaration will be provided with schedules of alternative dates.

Emails will be sent to concerned passport and authentication applicants with their new appointment schedule.

Affected applicants are advised to refer to the email and the DFA’s Advisories #5 and #6 on its website to know the accommodation schedule that will be followed.

“We again advise that schedules may still be subject to change if current MECQ restrictions continue or if local governments and mall partners which host these COs implement restrictions on access,” the agency said.

The public is advised to check DFA’s website for the latest update on the schedules of consular offices.

DFA to look into reports of Chinese vessel chasing television crew

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 10, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it will look into reports of a television crew being chased by a Chinese vessel in the West Philippine Sea.

In a statement released on Saturday (April 10), the department said it is glad that the television crew and the Filipino vessel are safe. It then advised those planning to visit the Kalayaan Island Group in the West Philippine Sea to coordinate with the Philippine authorities.

In the meantime, the department said it will verify the said reports before taking appropriate action.

“If proven to be true, the Department of Foreign Affairs will raise the matter with the Chinese government,” the statement reads.

A television crew from ABS-CBN on Wednesday (April 7) was about to visit Ayungin Shoal when they were chased down by a Chinese vessel. The crew managed get a video of the said chase which went viral on social media. AAC

PH, US discuss concerns over Chinese presence in WPS, anti-Asian violence

Robie de Guzman   •   April 9, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, in a phone call, discussed their concerns over the presence of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea, the US State Department said Friday.

“Substantive conversation today with my Philippine counterpart, @teddyboylocsin, discussing our concerns with People’s Republic of China militia vessels in the South China Sea and our efforts to combat anti-Asian hate and violence. #FriendsPartnersAllies,” Blinken said on Twitter.

The phone conversation between Locsin and Blinken follows reports on alleged Chinese “militia boats” scattered within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

In a separate statement, US State Department Ned Price said that Blinken also reaffirmed the applicability of the 1951 US-Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty to the South China Sea.

“Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke today with Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin Jr. Both expressed their shared concerns with the massing of PRC maritime militia vessels in the South China Sea, including at Whitsin Reef, and reiterated their calls on the PRC (People’s Republic of China) to abide by the 2016 arbitration ruling issued pursuant to the Law of the Sea Convention,” Price said.

Price was referring to the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in favor of the Philippines and nullified China’s nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea, including parts that are within the Philippines EEZ.

Beijing has ignored the 2016 international tribunal decision.

Apart from the Philippines and China, other countries competing for territorial claims in the South China Sea are Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

Aside from the renewed tensions in the West Philippine Sea, Locsin said they also tackled the string of anti-Asian hate and violence in the United States.

Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Romualdez earlier said that Washington has been taking steps to curb the anti-Asian attacks, including the setting up of hotlines and the deployment of more law enforces in areas with a large population of Asian Americans. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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