The Philippine government yesterday decided to remove Taiwan from a temporary travel ban, its second reversal this month amid an outbreak of COVID-19 in China and the shadow of Beijing’s influence.
“The [Philippine presidential] palace confirms that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease has resolved to lift the travel restrictions imposed upon Taiwan, effective immediately,” Philippine presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement relayed by the Manila Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei.
The decision has been agreed “by reason of the strict measures they [Taiwanese officials] are undertaking, as well as the protocols they are implementing to address the COVID-19 [outbreak],” he said after a Philippine Cabinet meeting yesterday afternoon.
While diplomatic negotiations were ongoing, Taipei on Wednesday vowed to implement seven to eight countermeasures if the ban was not lifted, while Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers called for the cancelation of a visa-waiver program or prohibiting the entry of Philippine migrant workers.
As of December last year, there were 157,487 Philippine migrant workers in Taiwan, more than 20 percent of the nation’s foreign workforce, Ministry of Labor data showed.
From January to November last year, 455,776 Philippine tourists visited Taiwan, up from 419,105 in 2018, Tourism Bureau data showed.