The Philippines have officially barred Taiwanese travelers’ entry since late last night, almost immediately after its representative in Taiwan tried to reassure local authorities.
In an order signed by the Executive Director of the Philippines’ Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) Carmelo Arcilla dated Feb. 10, it asserted that the travel ban announced on Feb.2 “includes Taiwan under the One China Policy.”
Airlines are to “fully implement the temporary travel ban restricting the entry into the Philippines of the following persons coming from China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan,” the order reads.
Local media reported that near 150 Taiwanese are currently stranded at the customs.
There is “internal inconsistency” within Philippine government agencies on whether a travel ban that was imposed on China includes Taiwan, according to Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA, 外交部) on Tuesday.
MOFA spokesperson Joanne Ou (歐江安) said at a press briefing that the Philippine Health department had “unilaterally ordered” its Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) to refrain Taiwanese residents from entering the country based on a travel ban on China, while the southeast country’s representative in Taiwan took an opposite position.
Ou called the health department’s move a “political” one while iterating that Taiwan is not part of China and has the novel coronavirus outbreak well under control.
Taiwan calls on the Philippine government to “correct this mistake as soon as possible,” Ou said.
According to the Bureau of Tourism, as of this morning (Feb. 11), currently there are 22 Taiwanese tour groups, comprising of 542 people in the Philippines.
The decision came after Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA, 外交部) debunked a day earlier foreign reports that quoted the Philippine Department of Health spokesperson Eric Domingo as saying that Taiwan is included in a temporary travel restriction and ban on China because it considered by the World Health Organization as part of the East Asian giant.
The Chairman and Resident Representative of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) in Taiwan Angelito Banayo debunked such reports, saying in a message conveyed to its Taiwanese counterpart provided by MOFA spokesperson Joanne Ou (歐江安) that “the statement made by a Health Undersecretary, Dr. Eric Domingo, is not an official position.”