PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte has lifted a novel coronavirus-related travel ban on Taiwan, days after the Chinese territory threatened to retaliate.
“Travel may now be made by any national to Taiwan from the Philippines and vice versa,” presidential spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said in a statement on Friday, citing strict measures adopted by Taiwan to contain the virus that has killed more than a thousand people and sickened tens of thousands more in China.
Mr. Panelo issued the statement after an inter-agency task force met on Friday to discuss the travel ban.
The task force would also evaluate protocols enforced by other Chinese jurisdictions, including Macau, for the possible lifting of the travel ban.
“The Office of the President likewise stresses that any resolution relative to travel restrictions in connection with the COVID-19 shall be subjected to regular review by the IATF,” Mr. Panelo said, referring to the novel coronavirus’s clinical term.
Earlier on Friday, Senator Panfilo M. Lacson criticized Mr. Duterte for failing to consult other sectors before ending a military deal with the US on the deployment of troops for war games.
“We elected a president who does not appear to give much importance to counsels and consultations with sectors that could very well help him arrive at well-informed decisions,” he said in a statement.
The senator also alluded to Mr. Duterte’s decision to include Taiwan in the travel ban.
The presidential palace earlier claimed the ban had nothing to do with the Philippines’ One-China policy.
“Politically, it seems that the China lobby has become a very powerful force under this administration,” Mr. Lacson said.
“Only time will tell if this major shift in the country’s foreign policy will benefit our people in the medium and long terms,” he said.
He added that the travel ban might already have potentially dire consequences for Filipino workers in Taiwan.
Taiwan is home to more than 150,000 Filipino migrant workers. There were 241,000 tourist arrivals from Taiwan in 2018, according to local tourism data. — Charmaine A. Tadalan