Palace: Duterte to study lifting of COVID-19 travel ban vs Taiwan
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte will study whether or not he will lift the travel restriction against Taiwan due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak after Taipei warned of possible “retaliatory measures” over the ban.
The Philippines banned all travel to and from China and its two administrative regions, Hong Kong and Macau, on February 2 to keep COVID-19 out of the country. However, the Department of Health (DOH) early this week announced that the travel ban also covered Taiwan.
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo explained that the Philippine government was only putting the safety of Filipinos in consideration when it ordered the ban.
Nonetheless, the Palace official said Duterte begged for time to study the issue.
“Maselan ang problema ng kalusugan ng ating mga kababayan, iyon ang kaniyang primary consideration – iyong safety, kaya nagkaroon ng travel ban,” Panelo said Thursday in an interview over dzBB.
(The health concern of our countrymen is a very critical matter, that’s his primary consideration – the safety of our people, that’s why there is a travel ban.)
“Sinasabi niya, bigyan ninyo ako ng panahon to ponder over it kung ili-lift natin. Pero sa ngayon, iyong kalusugan ng mga kababayan natin ang nasa isip niya,” he added.
(He [Duterte] is asking for time to ponder over it if he will lift the travel ban. But for now, it is the health of our countrymen in his mind.)
Taiwan protested its “wrongful” inclusion in the travel restriction with the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) in Taipei saying that President Tsai Ing-wen has already ordered her Cabinet to come up with a list of possible retaliatory measures against the Philippines due to the travel ban.
Among the possible measures Taipei may take is the lifting of , MECO chair Angelito Banayo said.
The Philippines honors the so-called “One China policy”, which declares Taiwan as among China’s territory.
Taiwan argued that its inclusion in the travel ban is “political.” But Panelo insisted the restriction is based on health concerns and downplayed the possible lifting of visa-free entry of Filipinos in Taiwan.
Malaca?ang said?Taiwan’s reaction is only “natural”.