Recto calls for temporary ‘Great Wall,’ as Wuhan coronavirus death toll rises
MANILA, Philippines — Put up a temporary “Great Wall” against Chinese visitors.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto issued this call as the novel coronavirus death toll climbs.
“I think it is time to put a temporary ‘Do not enter sign’ on our doorstep for visitors from China,” Recto said in a statement on Thursday.
“Let us explain to them that we are not permanently closing our doors. This is not a permanent Great Wall. This is only during the duration of the coronavirus crisis,” he added.
The Philippine Embassy in China, under the directive of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), said it would stop visa issuances to residents of Hubei Province, where the capital city of Wuhan is located.
Wuhan is the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
“If Hong Kong has drastically reduced high-speed train and ferry services from China, then why can’t we do the same?” Recto said, referring to Hong Kong’s decision to slash cross-border travel with mainland China.
Even within China, Recto noted that the Hong Kong government has quarantined 40 million of its people, confining them in their homes and restricting their travel.
“If many of their people are not allowed to travel from Point A to B in China, then why are we allowing travel from most points in China to all points in the Philippines?” Recto asked.
“Sabi nila, a temporary ban on Chinese visitors will harm them. On the contrary, it will harm us more, in tourism receipts forfeited. And greater harm if the virus will be carried in here by them,” he added.
Recto stressed there is “no hint of racism or xenophobia” in banning Chinese visitors from the Philippines.
“This is an assertion of national wellbeing. And an acceptance of the fact that our defenses and capacity to respond to a health emergency is not that strong,” the senator said.
“When China sneezes, we get pneumonia. If that is the case, then an ounce of border control is worth a ton of cure,” he added.
He, meanwhile, criticized the Bureau of Quarantine to “clear that cruise ship from China in express fashion.
“Abundant caution should have been exercised,” the senator added.
Meanwhile, Recto said airport screening of incoming passengers “regardless of their origin” should be strict because the virus can come here via other routes and means.