‘Balikbayan’ from US spared from planned PH visa requirement

By: DJ Yap - Philippine Daily Inquirer | January 02,2020 - 12:10 PM

“Balikbayan” Filipinos from the United States will not be affected by President Rodrigo Duterte’s plan to impose visa requirements on Americans traveling to the Philippines in retaliation for the US ban of Filipino officials involved in the detention of Sen. Leila de Lima.

Malacañang issued the clarification on Wednesday after an earlier announcement that even Filipino-Americans would be required visas should the United States actually ban any Filipino official on account of De Lima’s detention.

The Palace announced the planned tit for tat after the US ban became law on Dec. 20, when US President Donald Trump signed the $4.7-trillion federal budget, which carried a provision imposing the ban on human rights abusers.

US sanction

United States Senators Patrick Leahy (Democrat, from Vermont) and Richard Durbin (Democrat, Illinois) wrote the provision, a sanction on the Duterte administration for silencing critics of its brutal war on drugs under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.

The criticisms of Leahy and Durbin are “misplaced,” according to presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, who also announced that the two Democrats would be barred from the Philippines.

Later, the Palace escalated the ban to include all Americans should the United States proceed with the sanction on Duterte officials behind De Lima’s detention on drug charges, which she had described as retaliation for her investigation of alleged extrajudicial killings in Mr. Duterte’s drug war.

Panelo said Mr. Duterte would issue an executive order requiring American citizens, “including Filipino-Americans,” to get visas for travel to the Philippines.

On Wednesday, however, Panelo issued a statement clarifying that Filipinos living in the United States and visiting the Philippines as balikbayan will not be affected by the administration’s action.

Panelo defended the visa requirement for foreigners as “an exercise of a sovereign right and is not an insult to any particular community.”

Filipinos required US visas

He noted that the US government has long been requiring Filipinos to have US visas to be able to travel to the United States.

“As the community of nation believes in, ‘diplomacy is equality,’” Panelo added.

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TAGS: Balikbayan, ph, planned, requirement, US, visa

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