Palace insists Taiwan travel ban a health issue, not political
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Thursday denied that Taiwan’s inclusion in the temporary travel ban due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak was based on political reasons, stressing that the government imposed the restriction to ensure the safety of Filipinos.
The Philippines banned all travel to and from China and its two administrative regions, Hong Kong and Macau, on February 2 to keep the new coronavirus out of the country. However, the Department of Health (DOH) early this week announced that the travel ban also covered Taiwan.
Taipei protested its “wrongful” inclusion in the travel restriction, noting that the Philippines was “misled” by the World Health Organization, which considers Taiwan as part of China.
Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo denied this and said the enforced temporary travel ban was due to “health issue.”
“Hindi totoo iyon dahil hindi naman tayo gumagalaw nang ganoon, palaging health issue tayo,” Panelo said in an interview over dzBB when asked if the reason for the travel ban against Taiwan is “political”.
(That’s not true. We don’t move based on politics, it’s always based on health issues.)
Nonetheless, the Palace official said President Duterte will study whether or not he will lift the travel ban against Taiwan.
“Maselan ang problema ng kalusugan ng ating mga kababayan, iyon ang kaniyang primary consideration – iyong safety, kaya nagkaroon ng travel ban,” Panelo said.
(The health concern of our countrymen is a very critical matter, that’s his primary consideration – the safety of our people, that’s why there is a travel ban.)
“Sinasabi niya, bigyan ninyo ako ng panahon to ponder over it kung ili-lift natin. Pero sa ngayon, iyong kalusugan ng mga kababayan natin ang nasa isip niya,” he added.
(He [Duterte] is asking for time to ponder over it if he will lift the travel ban. But for now, it is the health of our countrymen in his mind.)
Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) in Taipei chair Angelito Banayo earlier said that Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has already ordered her Cabinet to come up with a list of possible retaliatory measures against the Philippines due to the travel ban.
Among the possible measures Taipei may take, according to Banayo, is the lifting of visa-free entry privilege of Filipinos to Taiwan.
The Philippines honors the so-called “One China policy”, which declares Taiwan as among China’s territory under the 1975 Joint Communique between the Chinese and Philippine governments.
Edited by KGA
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