PH gov’t urged to suspend issuance of all visas to visitors from Wuhan, other nCoV-hit Chinese areas
Robie de Guzman • January 29, 2020 • 752
MANILA, Philippines – A lawmaker on Wednesday urged the Philippine government to suspend the issuance of all visas to visitors from Wuhan and other parts of China reported to have been hit by the spread of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
In a statement, Senator Francis Pangilinan renewed his call for the suspension of visa issuances to Chinese nationals as the deadly virus continues to spread rapidly.
“Visa upon arrival lang ang suspended para sa mga Chinese. Yung tours, delegates, at businessmen, tulad nung cruise ships sa Subic, tuloy-tuloy pa. Dapat lahat,” Pangilinan said, referring to a cruise ship carrying close to 1,000 Chinese tourists that arrived in Manila from Hong Kong on Tuesday.
The cruise ship M/V World Dream and its 778 passengers were authorized to travel by the Bureau of Quarantine after it was declared cleared and safe during a mandatory inspection.
The ship was supposed to arrive at Subic Bay on Wednesday but it decided to cancel its arrival and head back to Hong Kong after residents and local officials in Olongapo protested the scheduled port call.
The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Tuesday, January 28 announced the temporary suspension of visa upon arrival (VUA) issuance for Chinese nationals following concerns on the spread of the novel coronavirus in China and other countries.
The bureau said the move aims to slowdown the influx of Chinese group tours in the Philippines, and possibly help prevent the entry of the new coronavirus strain. However, it clarified that there is no order yet barring Chinese nationals from entering the country.
Pangilinan also questioned the “unequal treatment” for Filipino and Chinese travelers after the Department of Health (DOH) said it would quarantine Filipinos who will be repatriated from China.
“But what is the rule for the thousands of Chinese arrivals? Bakit mga turistang Chinese galing China sakay ng cruise ship as per Bureau of Quarantine at Coast Guard, walang quarantine?” he said.
“DoH at Malacañang, kumilos kayo agad at huwag papasukin ang mga turista galing ng China habang nariyan ang outbreak,” he added.
Pangilinan also said that as of Tuesday, even Chinese authorities have suspended air and rail travel in the area around Wuhan and have since expanded the travel ban to 16 surrounding cities with a combined population of more than 50 million people.
Aside from China, he said Malaysia has suspended the issuance of visas for Chinese citizens from Wuhan and the areas around Hubei province to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus 2019 (2019-nCoV).
He also noted that the US State Department has issued a travel advisory to “reconsider travel to China due to novel coronavirus,” while the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued warning Level 3 urging Americans to avoid all nonessential travel to China, and Level 4 which means a ban on travel to Hubei province.
Chinese National Health Commission on Wednesday reported that the number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases has reached 5,974 as the death toll rose to 132.
The current figure of 2019-nCoV infection in mainland China has overtaken the 5,327 reported number of people infected by the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic in 2002-2003. SARS outbreak killed more than 770 people globally, including 349 in China.
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday disclosed that he asked help from his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in obtaining COVID-19 vaccines but insisted that they did not discuss issues on the West Philippine Sea.
During his Talk to the People public address on Monday night, Duterte recalled how he called Xi when the Philippines had yet to get any supply of COVID-19 vaccines.
“Let me just also say na itong history na… for public consumption na ito. Tumawag ako kay President Xi Jinping, sinabi ko kasi noong kasagsagan ng walang dumating talaga, walang makapkap si Secretary (Carlito) Galvez (Jr.), tumawag ako, sabi ko, ‘Mr. President (Xi), I would like to ask for your help until now Philippines is at a loss on how to get vaccines,’” he said.
“Sabi niya, ‘it’s okay we will help you.’ Ganoon lang. Hindi naman sinabi na kalimutan mo yung Scarborough Shoal, bigyan kita… Sinabi niya lang as simple as that,” he added.
The Philippines first received 600,000 doses of Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines that were donated by the Chinese government on February 28. The national government used this supply to roll out its vaccination program on March 1.
In total, the Philippines has received 1 million donated Sinovac vaccine doses from China, including the 400,000 doses that were delivered in March.
Duterte stood by his earlier statement that the Philippines owes a debt of gratitude to China for all its help but emphasized that there would be no compromise on the West Philippine Sea issue.
“It’s never, never wrong to say that I owe you a debt of gratitude. Totoo eh, binigyan tayo, tinanggap natin, ginamit natin,” he said.
“But it does not mean na tanggapin ko ang bakuna tapos sabihin ko kalimutan ko na yung claim diyan sa West Philippine sea, okay na yun dahil sa bakuna… It was never like that, the world does not operate like that,” he added.
He said there would be no compromise on the issue and that China knows it.
“Maski bahain tayo dito ng vaccine, gagamitin ko pa rin pero sabihin ko ‘hindi ito kabayaran’. Iba ito. This is a Philippine national interest, this is not a health issue that nagpasalamat ako,” he said.
Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated that “they did discuss issues.”
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he is not afraid of facing retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio in a debate on issues surrounding the West Philippine Sea.
Duterte last week dared Carpio to square off on the loss of a Philippine territory during the Aquino administration, but later tapped out and instead delegated the task to his spokesperson, lawyer Harry Roque.
“What was in my mind when I challenged Carpio into a debate? Ang problema lang kasi dito nakalimutan ko na si Carpio hindi ang presidente – ako,” Duterte said in his weekly Talk to the People on Monday night.
Duterte said he had to back out of the challenge because anything he might say there could be construed as a “policy statement.”
“I might bind future actions of government pagdating dito sa West Philippine Sea,” he said.
“Pero dodoon ako sa kahon, it’s not because I am afraid of debates,” he added, saying that he had faced many debates with political rivals for the presidency in 2016.
“Hindi ako takot sa’yo, ang problema, hindi ko nga alam na hindi ka president,” he further said, addressing Carpio.
Duterte has blamed the previous administration over the loss of the Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea following a standoff in 2012.
Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario earlier said that China “deceitfully breached” its agreement with the Philippines to withdraw the ships of both sides to end the standoff.
The Philippines then pursued an arbitral case against China in 2014. The Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in 2016 in favor of the Philippines and nullified China’s vast claims in the South China Sea, including parts of the West Philippine Sea.
Duterte said he tried pursuing the arbitral ruling but nothing happened.
China has been ignoring the diplomatic protest that the Philippine government has repeatedly filed over the incursion of Chinese vessels in the contested waters.
MANILA, Philippines – Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Thursday expressed agreement with President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent remark on the 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) favoring the Philippines in its case against China’s activities in the West Philippine Sea.
“What President Duterte said last night regarding the PCA ruling is correct,” Lorenzana said in a statement, referring to Duterte’s statement that nothing happened when he tried to assert the arbitral ruling on the Philippines’ rights in the resource-rich West Philippine Sea.
In a pre-taped public address on Wednesday night, Duterte said he tried to pursue the arbitral ruling when he came to power in 2016 but “nothing happened,” adding that the ruling was “just a piece of paper” that can be tossed into a waste basket.
Lorenzana said he agrees with the President when he said that there is no international law enforcement body that can enforce the ruling.
He, however, stressed that even without the PCA ruling, the Philippine government will still continue to defend “what is rightfully ours.”
“As I said in my previous statement, the President’s orders have been firm and straightforward: we defend what is rightfully ours without going to war and maintain the peace in the seas,” he said.
Lorenzana also said that Philippine Coast Guard and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources will continue conducting maritime exercises in the West Philippine Sea and the Kalayaan Island Group.
The National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea earlier said that it has intensified maritime patrols in the West Philippine Sea after Chinese vessels were spotted lingering in areas within the Philippine exclusive economic zone.
The Department of Foreign Affairs have repeatedly filed diplomatic protests over Chinese incursions in the West Philippine Sea.
UNTV is a major TV broadcast network with 24-hour programming. An Ultra High Frequency station with strong brand content that appeal to everyone, UNTV is one of the most trusted and successful Philippine networks that guarantees wholesome and quality viewing experience.