Immigration: Foreigners to enter PHL for emergency, humanitarian reasons told to seek exemption from NTF

Immigration: Foreigners to enter PHL for emergency, humanitarian reasons told to seek exemption from NTF

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration reminded foreign nationals who intend to enter the country for emergency or humanitarian reasons may seek exemption from the National Covid Task Force Against COVID-19 (NTF).

The NTF suspended the entry of foreigners from March 22 until April 21, to curb the rising COVID-19 infections in the country amid reports of new and more infectious coronavirus variants.

On Friday, the bureau stressed that foreigners are still banned from entering the country due to ongoing travel restrictions. Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente pointed out that the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases’ resolution in March authorizes only the NTF to approve requests from foreigners who are not exempted from the ban.

“The IATF resolution clearly states that only the NTF chair or his authorized representative may approve requests to allow the entry of foreigners on emergency, humanitarian and analogous cases,” he added.

The NTF’s revised memo made public on March 19 listed exemptions on the travel ban against foreigners such as diplomats and those involved in medical repatriation.

Among these exemptions are “emergency, humanitarian and other analogous cases approved by the chairperson of the NTF COVID-19 or his duly authorized representative, provided the foreign nationals have valid visas at the time of entry.”

The bureau said they are issuing the clarification following reports that several foreigners without NTF-issued entry exemptions were turned away at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Morente however stressed that the travel restriction is only temporary. "We hope that after this spike, the number of cases continues to downtrend, so we may be able to revive the international travel and tourism sector," he added.

The government has also placed Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal under enhanced community quarantine until April 11, as an additional measure to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Health authorities on Friday reported 12,225 new infections, pushing the national caseload to 840,554. The country also posted record-high active cases at 178,351 and fatalities with 401 confirmed deaths. — Kristine Joy Patag

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