The Bureau of Immigration (BI) said that it is on standby for the eventual reopening of Philippine borders to foreign tourists.
In a statement, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente stated that while no definite date has been decided on when the Philippines will reopen to foreign tourists, he is confident that this will be very soon.
“There are reports circulating that the country has already reopened its borders to international leisure travelers,” said Morente. “While we are awaiting the official announcement from the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID), we have already put in place the needed manpower and facilities in preparation for this,” he added.
Earlier, the BI announced that frontline personnel have been banned from filing vacation leaves during the holiday season. The Bureau also stated that 99 new immigration officers have been recently hired for deployment in the BI’s ports and different offices nationwide.
“We have also resumed the use of our e-gates for arriving Filipinos as it would greatly lessen the processing time for our kababayans who will be returning here for Christmas,” said Morente.
Morente stated that the status quo on the country’s travel restrictions remains as they wait for the IATF-MEID to make the formal announcement.
BI on standby for reopening of PH to foreign tourists
He added that members of the IATF-MEID are still extensively discussing and deliberating on proposals to reopen the Philippines to alien visitors, ironing out many details before its implementation.
“Most probably, those coming from green list countries will be the first ones to be allowed entry,” said Morente.
According to BI Port Operations Division Chief Atty. Carlos Capulong, there are 44 countries that are under the green list, while two—Faroe Islands and the Netherlands—remain in the red list.
Last week, Morente stressed that, while there are encouraging signs that the country might soon reopen its borders, the BI will continue to restrict the entry of foreign tourists until the government decides to the lift the travel ban on them.
Presently, only Filipinos, balikbayan, and foreigners with valid and existing visas issued by the BI and other specialized government agencies are allowed to enter the country.