The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has not approved the supposed easing of outbound travel restrictions for Filipinos who want to reunite with their foreign partners, Malacañang said Monday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this clarification after IATF Vice Chair and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles announced over the weekend that the IATF heeded the call of couples kept apart by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
“Outbound, iyong mga paalis, wala pa pong agreement in principle. Hindi ko po alam kung saan nanggaling iyong impormasyon that there was an agreement in principle (Outbound travel, there is no agreement in principle yet. I don’t know where the information came from that there was an agreement in principle),” he said in a Palace press briefing.
Roque pointed out that outbound travel is still limited to “essential travel” only.
He said he consulted Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Brigido “Dodo” Dulay who confirmed to him that there is no agreement to ease outbound travel restrictions in principle.
Roque said IATF discussions on the relaxation of outbound travel restrictions for Filipinos are still ongoing, adding that all information regarding IATF decisions should come from his office.
“Itong (This) outbound po continuous to be discussed in the TWG. Wala pong (There is no) agreement in principle and that is why I would like to stress, any information about IATF must originate from my office,” he said.
As for inbound travel, Roque said the IATF is still restricting the entry of tourists in the country.
“We are still restricting the entry of tourists into the country. Iyan naman po ay ipinatutupad din ng halos lahat ng mga bansa sa buong daigdig (That is being implemented in almost all countries around the world),” he said.
Roque said the Department of Foreign Affairs does not issue separate “fiancé visas” like the United States. Fiancés will still have to resort to using regular tourist visas.
He explained that foreigners will only be allowed to enter the country for a “specific urgent purpose”. Their entry will first have to be endorsed by a line agency of government that has jurisdiction over the purpose of the alien in coming to the Philippines.
“Alam ko po masamang balita ito sa mga nagmamahalan, pero mas mabuti na pong alam ninyo kung ano ang katotohanan nang hindi muna kayo po umasa (I know it’s bad news for lovers, but you should know the truth so you don’t keep your hopes up). It’s not a personal decision that I made, it’s a decision of the IATF and I am only the spokesperson of the IATF,” he said.
Earlier, Roque said he will personally bring up before the IATF calls of unmarried, long-distance couples to allow governments to relax travel restrictions and allow them to reunite.
Currently, Filipinos are not allowed to leave the country unless they are overseas Filipino workers or permanent residents or holders of a student visa in their country of destination.
Likewise, only foreign nationals married to Filipinos are allowed to enter the country upon presentation of their marriage certificates. (PNA)