President Rodrigo Duterte will look into Taiwan’s appeal to lift its inclusion in the temporary travel ban imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease-2019 (Covid-19) in the country, Malacañang said on Wednesday.
In a media interview, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo acknowledged the concern of the Taiwanese government especially since no other country in Asia has issued a travel ban on Taiwan.
“We will relay to the President the request of certain quarters to reconsider the travel ban to Taiwan,” Panelo said.
Panelo, however, pointed out that the ban was extended to Taiwan as part of government efforts to “protect our countrymen from being infected”.
He stressed that the decision to include Taiwan in the travel ban was based on the recommendation of the Department of Health (DOH).
Earlier, Panelo said the travel ban could be lifted once the situation normalizes.
“Sabi daw ng Presidente (the President said) ‘list to us the measures we can undertake as a reaction or response’,” he said.
On Monday, the DOH clarified that Taiwan is also included in the travel ban of all nationals from China and its special administrative regions Hong Kong and Macao.
The World Health Organization (WHO) currently regards Taiwan as part of China under Beijing’s “One China” policy.
Panelo also denied that Taiwan has warned of retaliatory moves over the travel ban.
On Tuesday, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) expressed concern over the decision of the Philippine government to include Taiwan in the travel ban.
In a statement, TECO insisted that Taiwan is a sovereign and independent state to China since it issues its own passport and visas and has exclusive jurisdiction over its people and territory.
TECO noted that Taiwan has taken all measures needed to contain the spread of Covid-19.
Currently, only Filipinos and foreigners with permanent resident visas from the countries included in the travel ban are allowed in the Philippines but will be turned over to the Bureau of Quarantine for assessment, according to the Bureau of Immigration (BI).
There are approximately 120,000 documented and 20,000 undocumented Filipino workers in Taiwan, according to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
There is a total of 18 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Taiwan.
The disease has spread to 24 more countries outside China, including Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Singapore, France, Spain, India, and the Philippines. (PNA)