Manila, Philippines — The National Task Force Against COVID-19 on Friday revised its rules on suspending the entry of incoming travelers, admitting it mistakenly barred some Filipinos from returning home in its desire to stop the steady upward trend in new COVID-19 cases nationwide.
Amending the memorandum circular issued on Tuesday that non-overseas Filipino workers will be temporarily barred from entering the country, the task force now allows all Filipino citizens to return to the Philippines.
Entry of most foreigners will be suspended from March 22 to 11:59 p.m. of April 21. Exempted from the ban are diplomats, foreigners involved in medical repatriation, foreign seafarers under the “green lanes” program, foreign spouses and children of Filipino citizens traveling with them, and other humanitarian cases approved by the task force.
Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier announced that incoming international flights would be allowed to carry only up to 1,500 passengers per day in a bid to control the new surge in infections in the country.
NTF Chairman Delfin Lorenzana admitted they made a mistake in the earlier order, so it was changed days later.
“Isinama namin mga Filipinos na hindi makabalik. Hindi tama ‘yon dahil kung nagtatravel lang sila sa ibang bansa, saan naman sila titira? So we will allow all Filipinos to come back,” he said.
[Translation: We included Filipinos in the ban. That’s not right, because where will they stay if they can’t return?]
Senator Joel Villanueva slammed the government agencies for being uncoordinated, resulting in ever-changing policies.
“Kahit na masaya tayo na inayos po ito, ’yung flipflopping of our policies [Although we are happy that it was fixed, the flipflopping of policies] would continue to hurt us, our economy, especially the stakeholders,” he told CNN Philippines on Friday.
The Duterte administration is discussing plans to impose a “circuit breaker” similar to those in other countries where strict lockdowns are carried out for a limited time in hopes of breaking the chain of virus transmission.
Source: CNN Philippines