Filipinos’ alien spouses, kids can now enter PH
The government panel managing the country’s COVID-19 response has allowed the foreign spouses and children—regardless of age—of Filipino citizens who are traveling with them, to enter the country beginning Dec. 7.
“Balikbayan,” or returning Filipinos, based abroad could also enjoy the same privilege under the new guidelines approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases on Thursday.
They are allowed visa-free entry, but they need to have a prebooked quarantine facility and a prebooked COVID-19 test at a laboratory operating at the airport, according to presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.
Subject to maximum capacity
They would also be subject to the maximum capacity of inbound passengers at the port and date of entry, Roque said.
The Bureau of Immigration has been tasked to come up with the guidelines for the implementation of this policy.
The Department of Tourism was directed to issue guidelines for the provision of sufficient accommodation for these persons while they wait for the results of their COVID-19 tests.
The government limited the number of foreign arrivals in the country when the pandemic struck, but the restrictions have been eased little by little.
Last month, foreigners with investors’ visa have been allowed to cross the borders.
Filipinos, on the other hand, have been allowed to leave the country for tourism purposes.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat on Friday lauded the government’s decision to allow balikbayan to enter the Philippines starting Dec. 7, saying it would help the local tourism recover from the debilitating effects of the pandemic.
Market for tourism
“Balikbayans are considered a viable source market of the country for tourism, particularly extending to the second- and third-generation dependents who have yet to discover their parents’ roots,” Puyat said in a statement.
“That is why we deem important the Filipino communities abroad as staunch partners in driving visitors to the Philippines,” she said.
The tourism secretary said opening the country to returning Filipinos and their families during the Christmas season “is a great cause for celebration for millions of families who long for the homecoming of their relatives abroad.”
“This not only bodes well for our ailing industry, but is good tidings for our [countrymen] who have been clamoring to be reunited with their loved ones from abroad, especially this yuletide season,” Puyat said.
The coronavirus contagion had brought the local tourism industry to its knees as thousands of tourism-related businesses and activities had shut down due to lockdowns and travel restrictions that the government imposed to stem the spread of the virus.
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