The Bureau of Immigration (BI) announced that Hongkong and Macau nationals may again enter the country as temporary visitors without a visa for 14 days.
In a statement, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said the relaxed policy is provided in the latest resolution passed by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) last Friday.
Morente said the resolution revived a Philippine foreign service circular that was in effect prior to the Covid-19 pandemic wherein nationals of Hongkong-SAR and Macau-SAR were allowed entry into the country for 14 days visa-free.
In the same resolution, the IATF-MEID ruled that nationals from Israel and Brazil may now again enter the Philippines visa-free for an initial stay of 59 days.
The IATF-MEID also revived a previous foreign service circular that was in effect before the pandemic wherein holders of Israeli and Brazilian passports may be admitted for 59 days upon arrival in the country.
Said privilege was extended to citizens of the two countries in accordance with a reciprocal arrangement wherein Filipinos are also allowed entry into Israel and Brazil for 59 days without a visa.
Pre-pandemic, in 2019, the BI saw the arrival of more than 5,000 Hong Kong nationals, and more than 3,000 Macau Sar nationals.
In the same period, almost 25,000 Israelis, and around 13,000 Brazilians also entered the Philippines.
‘Bayanihan, Bakunahan 4’ fails to meet target
It is said that Filipinos are now refusing the vaccine against COVID-19 as the number of cases of the infection is declining, which is why the National Vaccination Operations Center (NVOC) once again missed their target of 1.8M to be vaccinated in “Bayanihan, Bakunahan 4.”
Health Undersecretary and NVOC head Dr. Myrna Cabotaje that about 836,000 individuals were able to be vaccinated in the first two days of national vaccination day or only 44% of the 1.8 million in three days.
“Some people still don’t get vaccinated or take booster shots due to complacency because COVID-19 cases are low… We’re already studying which countries [we can donate to] and what brands they can accept,” said Cabotaje.
“Our health workers are really struggling to convince people to get vaccinated…They go from house to house, but even though some are at home, they still don’t want to get vaccinated,” the official added.