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Local governments told to allow foreigners to leave

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THE Bureau of Immigration will allow foreigners to leave the country even without their alien certificate of registration ID, the agency said in a statement on Friday.

The bureau would waive the requirement for foreigners with approved visas amid a lockdown of Luzon island due to a novel coroanvirus outbreak, it said.

“We will no longer be requiring ACR I-Card waiver orders for departing foreign nationals,” Immigration Commissioner Jaime H. Morente said.

“With the rapid spike in COVID-19 cases, we were prompted to make additional measures to lessen person-to-person contacts,” he added.

The bureau issued earlier an advisory suspending several transactions in Luzon including tourist visa extension except for foreigners seeking to leave the country.

Foreigners with visas expiring during the lockdown period may file for an extension after the quarantine without penalties.

Meanwhile, local governments should allow the free movement of outbound foreign nationals amid the Luzon-wide lockdown, Carlito G. Galvez, Jr., chief enforcer of the country’s anti-COVID-19 measures, said on Friday.

About 1,900 foreigners have been stranded in the Philippines after President Rodrigo R. Duterte locked down the entire Luzon island, suspending classes, work and public transportation to contain the outbreak, Mr. Galvez told radio DZBB.

He said local governments should not bar these travelers from leaving because the government had put in place safety measures.

Mr. Galvez said the National Government might remove the police power of local governments that refuse to follow the orders of the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases.

The government would stop helping foreign governments in transporting their citizens through quarantine checkpoints, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. tweeted on Thursday night.

He said the Department of Foreign Affairs would still “help gather the stragglers, talk to restrictive local governments to let them go through quarantines” and “give whatever help we can extend.”

“They can still leave the country anytime they please; no penalties for exceeding their visas,” Mr. Locsin said. “But their governments will have to bear the costs and assume the main burden of collecting them for sweeper flights out.” — Vann Marlo M. Villegas and Genshen L. Espedido





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