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No politics in Manila travel ban on Taiwan

FLAG of Taiwan

FLAG of Taiwan

By ARGYLL GEDUCOS

Malacañang said the government’s decision to include Taiwan in its travel ban to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 was not politically motivated, stressing it was only implemented to secure the health and safety of the Filipinos.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo made the statement after Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked the Philippines to correct its “unilateral decision” to include their country in the travel ban because of the “One China Policy.”

In a radio interview yesterday, Panelo denied that the Philippines’ move was politically motivated.

“Hindi totoo iyon dahil hindi naman tayo gumagalaw nang ganoon, palaging health issue tayo,” he told Super Radyo DZBB. “Sinasabi niya: Bigyan ninyo ako ng panahon to ponder over it kung ili-lift natin. Pero sa ngayon, iyong kalusugan ng mga kababayan natin ang nasa isip niya,” he added.

International news agency CNA reported that Taiwan could retaliate with seven or eight countermeasures, such as ending the visa-waiver program for Filipino tourists or cutting down on the number of Philippine migrant workers.

In his radio interview, Panelo said it was only normal for a country to react to any order against them.

“Natural lang iyon. Bawat bansa, kapag mayroong ginawang isang bagay ang isang bansa na hindi ka sang-ayon, gumagawa ka rin ng countermeasure mo. Natural lang iyon,” he said. “We understand where it’s coming from. But the primary consideration of the President is the safety of our countrymen – the foremost,” he added.

The Philippines implemented an entry ban against visitors coming from China and its special administrative regions Hong Kong and Macau on Feb. 2 amid the Covid-19 scare. On Feb. 10, the Philippines expanded the travel ban to cover Taiwan.

TRAVEL BAN EXPANSION

Panelo said visitors from other countries with confirmed Covid-19 cases may be included in the travel ban.

“Baka darating tayo doon. Darating siguro tayo doon sa travel ban na ‘yun,” he said. “Lahat ‘yan pinag-aaralan. Basta ang palaging sinasabi niya ‘My primary concern is the safety, walang iba’,” he added.

According to the World Health Organization, Taipei has 18 confirmed Covid-19 cases as of Feb. 12 while Singapore has 47 cases. (Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos)

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