First ‘green lane’ for seafarers in Asia now open in the Philippines

Marje Pelayo   •   July 3, 2020   •   818

MANILA, Philippines — The country has opened the first “green lane” for seafarers in Asia to allow the free movement of seafarers and personnel across borders.

The Philippine Green Lane Joint Circular, which took effect upon signing on Thursday (July 2), was created by the Philippine government to ensure that seafarers are accorded speedy and safe travel, subject to health protocols mandated by the Philippine government.

It intends to provide safe and swift disembarkation and crew change during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as to prevent the spread of COVID-19 for both Filipino and foreign seafarers whether inbound, outbound or transiting.

The Joint Circular will also facilitate the creation of controlled travel corridors to open the Philippines for people-to-people and economic exchange and stimulate the country’s economy amidst its ongoing bout against the pandemic.

The signing ceremony was held at the Department of Foreign Affairs office led by Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin together with Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, and representatives from the Department of Health Bureau of Quarantine among other officials.

Palace unconvinced PH has higher COVID-19 cases than Indonesia

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 7, 2020

Malacañang is not convinced that the Philippines has surpassed Indonesia in the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

During a press briefing on Friday (August 7), Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Philippines is conducting more COVID-19 tests which resulted in more confirmed cases.

Ibig sabihin po dahil mas maigiting ang ating pagte-test hindi totoo na mas marami tayo kaso kaysa sa Indonesia. Hindi lamang nalalaman ng mga Indonesian kung sino-sino ang mga umiikot na mayroong sakit at least tayo alam kung sino po sila (It means we are conducting more tests. It is not true that we have more cases than Indonesia. The Indonesians don’t know who are sick at least, on our case, we know),” he said.

The Department of Health (DOH) has previously explained that the COVID-19 situation in the Philippines cannot be compared to other countries because of the population difference and health care system.

Meanwhile, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año said no country can say they have been successful in their fight against COVID-19.

“No country could ever say they are successful. Look at Japan, look at Italy, even Vietnam, and Singapore,” he said. “We focus on what we are doing is appropriate, proper, and practical rather than everyday compare yourself.” -AAC (with reports from Joan Nano)

PHL to allow entry of foreigners with long-term visas starting August

Robie de Guzman   •   July 17, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Foreign nationals with long-term visas in the Philippines will be allowed entry starting August 1, Malacañang announced Friday.

The government’s task force against COVID-19, however, set conditions prior to the entry of these foreign nationals.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that foreigners entering the country must first have valid and existing visas at the time of entry – this means that no new entry visa shall be accepted.

They are likewise subject to the maximum capacity of inbound passengers at the port and date of entry as returning overseas Filipino will be given priority.

Roque also said that foreigners are also required to secure a pre-booked accredited quarantine facility and a pre-booked COVID-19 testing provider.

He said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) approved the policy on Thursday, July 16.

Previously, only Filipinos, their spouses and children, accredited foreign government and international officials and foreign airline crew were allowed to enter the country amid the community quarantine.

Last week, the government also lifted the ban on non-essential overseas travel by Filipinos subject to conditions such as confirmed roundtrip tickets for those traveling on tourist visas and signing a declaration form acknowledging the risks and possible delays in traveling amid the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Roque also said that the IATF on Thursday also decided to prohibit spectators in all outdoor non-contact sports and exercises in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ), and in indoor and outdoor sports and exercises in modified GCQ areas.

He also announced that the task force has authorized the recategorization of certain industries that will resume operations and the gradual increase of operating capacity of industries that are now open.

The task force likewise allowed the Department of Trade and Industry to issue a list of industries which shall remain closed even in areas under the MGCQ.

Roque said these development aim to revitalize the economy in Metro Manila and Region 4A. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Xi assures Duterte: PH will be ‘priority’ if China’s COVID-19 vaccine becomes available

Robie de Guzman   •   June 12, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Chinese President Xi Jinping has assured President Rodrigo Duterte of assistance amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic during a telephone conversation, Malacañang said on Friday.

In a statement, Malacañang said the phone call took place on Thursday night, June 11 and lasted for 38 minutes. The call came two days after the Philippines and China marked 45 years of diplomatic ties.

The Palace said that during the phone conversation, Xi promised Duterte that the Philippines would be a “priority” if China successfully develops a vaccine against COVID-19.

This was after Duterte stressed the need for cooperation in the research and development of the vaccine and “underscored the importance of making the vaccine accessible and affordable to all countries.”

“President Xi, on the other hand, assured PRRD (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte) his country’s commitment to make the vaccine available for all, adding that the Philippines, as a friendly neighbor, would certainly be a priority,” the Palace said.

Malacañang also said that the two leaders discussed both countries’ progress in combating COVID-19 and their strategies to restart their respective economies.

“Both tendered their commitment to work together in fighting COVID-19 as part of international efforts to contain the spread of the virus,” it added.

The Palace also said that the two leaders likewise emphasized the friendship of two countries and the “significant increase in mutual cooperation in wide range of areas.”

China’s state run Xinhua News Agency reported that Xi and Duterte praised each other for their handling of the pandemic.

The agency also reported that Duterte supposedly promised Xi that the Philippines will always be a friend of Chinese people and will not allow the Philippines to be used or engaged in anti-China activities. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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