Lesson learned: Taiwan travel ban hit for being hasty, ill-advised | Inquirer News

Lesson learned: Taiwan travel ban hit for being hasty, ill-advised

MANILA, Philippines — The short-lived travel ban imposed on Taiwan should serve as a lesson to the government not to make hasty, ill-advised decisions, lawmakers and workers’ rights advocates said on Saturday.

The government lifted the ban on Friday after imposing it on Monday purportedly to stop the spread of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19), after an interagency task force was convinced Taipei was strictly screening travelers to ensure none was a virus carrier.


“Hopefully, this experience served as an eye-opener to the interagency committee on the need for a more inclusive and fair process prior to the imposition of travel bans,” said former Labor Undersecretary Susan Ople, head of the migrant workers advocate group Blas F. Ople Policy Center.

According to the Philippine Manpower Agencies Accredited to Taiwan, the ban prevented around 5,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from leaving for their jobs.


The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) said these jobs were put at stake not because of the risk of exposure to the virus, which originated in Wuhan City in China’s Hubei province.

Critics said the travel ban was a political rather than a health-related measure, given that there were fewer confirmed COVID-19 cases in Taiwan than in several major countries in the region like Japan, Singapore and South Korea.

It was seen as an implementation of Manila’s “One-China” policy, which does not recognize Taiwan as an independent state but a part of China. The Philippines had earlier imposed a travel ban on China and its administrative regions Hong Kong and Macau.

Meco thankful

Sen. Joel Villanueva said administration officials should think through their policies and decisions.

“They have to make sense and they should be practical. We have to have very clear parameters and references when implementing policies because the consequences can be very significant,” Villanueva said in a text message to the Inquirer.

Lito Banayo, chair of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (Meco) in Taipei, the de facto Philippine embassy in Taiwan, thanked the interagency task force for lifting the ban, which he said was welcomed by the 160,000 Filipino workers there.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson said the ban was ill-advised and was removed following objections and a warning from Taiwan that it might lift the visa-free entry of Filipinos in response.


That decision was a good sign that President Duterte was open to reasonable arguments, he said.

“It shows that despite his reputed stubborn and rigid mindset, the President is still capable of being sensitive to rational opinion when the public good is under consideration,” Lacson told the Inquirer in a text message.

Appeal for exemptions

Ople asked the government to exempt Filipinos who had left behind their families in Hong Kong from the travel ban to the Chinese territory.

“The travel ban has separated [Filipino] Hong Kong residents from their loved ones, disrupting households and endangering sustainable and dependable incomes,” she said.

TUCP president Raymond Mendoza said the government should pour in more funds to assist affected workers after a P10,000-per head cash assistance fund provided by the Department of Labor and Employment had run out.

“Some OFWs have resorted to [loan sharks] to live by and to cope with the stalemate,” he said.

Mendoza said the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration reported that P35 million in cash assistance had already been disbursed.

Resumed flights

Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines on Saturday announced they would resume flights between Taiwan and the Philippines next week.

After its first flight from Manila to Taipei on Monday night, Cebu Pacific said it would gradually resume daily flights between the two cities. Next week’s flights will be those that had been canceled when the ban was imposed, it said.

PAL said that on Feb. 21, it would start its Manila-Taipei-Manila flights for just four days per week up to the end of the month, before resuming daily operations starting on March 1.

From March 29 onward, PAL said it would resume its regular twice-daily flights to and from Taiwan.

Passengers originally confirmed on canceled Manila-Taipei and Taipei-Manila flights may now book on the restored flights, PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna said.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

The Inquirer Foundation supports our healthcare frontliners and is still accepting cash donations to be deposited at Banco de Oro (BDO) current account #007960018860 or donate through PayMaya using this link.

Read Next
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.
Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

News that matters

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

© Copyright 1997-2023 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.