Travel ban on Taiwan may be due to China lobby, says Lacson
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Panfilo Lacson on Friday said the government’s decision to impose a travel ban on Taiwan following the massive outbreak of COVID-19 may have been influenced by a “very powerful” China lobby.
The World Health Organization renamed the former novel coronavirus as COVID-19 to refer to the plague that killed almost 1,500 people in China and infected 64,000 others as of Friday.
Government on Feb. 2 banned all travel to and from China and its two administrative regions—Hong Kong and Macau—as a precautionary measure against the spread of the virus to the Philippines. Late on Monday, however, the Department of Health (DOH) said the ban covered Taiwan, following the Philippines’ One China policy, which recognizes China and considers Taiwan a Chinese province.
Taiwan claims sovereignty from China, where majority of the COVID-19-infected cases and deaths are recorded.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that while decision to include Taiwan in the travel ban has to do with health reasons, it was also the recommendation of the WHO, a fact subsequently denied by the international health body.
For this reason, Lacson claimed it appeared that “(p)olitically, it seems that the China lobby has become a very powerful force under this administration.”
“Just like the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement, the Philippine government’s travel ban to Taiwan is a policy decision implemented by the executive department which may not necessarily be correct, health-wise and politically,” Lacson said in a statement sent to reporters.
When asked to clarify by INQUIRER.net if he believed that the travel ban on Taiwan was due to the China lobby, Lacson said: “How could it not be?”
Lacson pointed out “only time will tell” if this “major shift” in the country’s foreign policy would be beneficial for the Filipino people in the “medium and long term-even as in the immediate term.”
“The travel ban may already have potentially dire consequences for our Filipino workers there,” he said
Taiwan said it has has been careful in handling the COVID-19 cases in their country, with only 18 persons infected and zero deaths so far.
Taipei then warned of “reactive measures” like canceling the visa-free entry consideration given to Filipinos, pointing out that only the Philippines out of other Asian countries imposed the said ban.
“We elected a president who does not give much importance to counsels and consultations with sectors that could very well help him arrive at well-informed decisions,” Lacson went on.
The senator said that while he does not question President Rodrigo Duterte’s “sincerity in trying to solve the problems besetting our country since the time the millennials of the world were not even born,” he still expressed hope the chief executive “can leave his own legacy worth remembering.”
“Having said that, I continue to support his leadership but I will not stop calling him out on major decisions which I don’t think serve the best interest of our country and people,” he added.
Edited by EDV
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