Safety of Filipinos primary concern for Taiwan travel ban, Panelo says
President Rodrigo Duterte's primary concern is to ensure the safety of the Filipinos when he ordered the inclusion of Taiwan in the travel ban in the wake of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), Malacanang said on Thursday.
In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that Duterte's decision has nothing to do with One-China policy.
"Well, the President said last night, 'My primary concern is to help the safety of our countrymen. Until the danger persists, then we have to do what is necessary to secure their safety'," he said.
Taiwan has threatened to retaliate following the travel ban imposed also by the Duterte administration despite a fewer number of reported cases of COVID-19 compared with other countries, such as Singapore.
The Philippines initially ban travel to and from China and its special administrative regions, such as Hong Kong and Macau, last week. It was only this week that the government included Taiwan. The Philippines adheres to One-China policy.
But Panelo said the decision to include Taiwan has nothing to do with the One-China policy of the Philippines.
"No, nothing to do with it (One-China policy)'," said Panelo, quoting Duterte.
Asked if the Philippines would also issue a travel ban against other countries with cases of COVID, Panelo said, "I don't know yet if there will also be travel ban. All of them are being studied by the President."
On Taiwan's reported threat to lift visa-free for Filipinos, he indicated that it would not be new since the Filipinos used to secure it from them.
"You know, each country has the right to react on any act perceived or taken by them as against its own interest. Oh, what can we do about it? We also have our own interest to protect o the health and safety of our citizens. We understand where the reaction is coming from, but they should also understand why we’re doing it," he added. Celerina Monte/DMS