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China mulls waiving of visas for Filipinos

The People’s Republic of China (PROC) is studying the possibility of waiving visa requirements for Filipinos wanting to visit China.

Jose Santiago “Chito’’ L. Santa Romana revealed this yesterday when he faced senators and congressmen who are members of the foreign affairs committee of the bicameral Commission on Appointments (CA) and explained why the CA should confirm his appointment as Philippine Ambassador to China.

Sta. Romana said the visa-free visit proposal for Filipinos is part of a wide range of agreements forged by Philippine President Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping when the latter made a State Visit to China a few months ago.

Sta. Romano was one of the active militant students that staged demonstrations in the early 70s against then President Marcos. He and a few other militants later sought refuge in China.

In the CA committee hearing conducted by its chairman, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson, Sta. Romana said the number of Chinese tourists arriving in the Philippines has doubled after the Duterte state visit.

But this does not mean that the Philippines has softened its stance against illegal immigration as the country must protect its economic interest and sovereignty, he said.

The Lacson committee later decided to recommend for confirmation the appointments of Sta. Romana and three other ambassadors in today’s plenary session.

A fifth appointee, James T. Lao withdrew his appointment by President Dutere as Philippine Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam because his wife is ill.

The three ambassadors-appointees up for confirmation are Jose C. Laurel V as Ambassador to Japan, Uriel Norman Robles Garibay as Ambassador to Kenya and 10 other African countries and as Permanent Representative to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT). (Mario Casayuran)