DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra said they are reviewing the VUA privilege through the Bureau of Immigration (BI) following a proposal from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to scrap it.
Rudy Santos
DOJ open to stopping visa-on-arrival
Robertzon Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - August 3, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice (DOJ) is open to scrapping the visa-upon-arrival (VUA) privilege given to foreign nationals who are entering the Philippines amid security concerns and reports that it is being abused by some Chinese nationals. 

DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra said they are reviewing the VUA privilege through the Bureau of Immigration (BI) following a proposal from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to scrap it.

The BI approved the VUA option for Chinese nationals in August 2017. This was aimed at attracting more tourists and investments from China.

Last July 31, DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. posted on his Twitter account that the visas for Chinese nationals should undergo a vetting process by consular offices.

“We need to put an end to visas upon arrival; all visas should be issued by consular offices after vetting. We must take extra care in outsourcing any part of the visa application process, picking only the most reputable worldwide,” he tweeted. 

Malacañang has also expressed its support for the DFA proposal. 

“There is always that possibility,” Guevarra told reporters when asked if he is open to scrapping the VUA during a press conference at the DOJ yesterday. 

He added that abuse concerns arise when visas are converted “to something else, like a work visa, which needs a special work permit.” 

Guevarra emphasized that the government is also looking into the “issue of security,” which was recently raised by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. amid the influx of undocumented Chinese nationals in the country. 

Locsin’s tweet was also a reaction to a news report where Esperon described the influx of Chinese nationals into the country as a “security threat,” with emphasis on those who are entering with questionable documentation. 

While Esperon sees the influx of Chinese nationals as a cause of concern, BI Commissioner Jaime Morente, however, considered it only as “just a trend” brought about by “external factors.”  

“The Chinese tourism boom has brought a lot of Chinese tourists to our shores, the same can be said for other countries with popular tourist destinations. They are everywhere, and this huge tourism market is what the Department of Tourism (DOT) wanted to tap,” he said.  

Morente also credited the rise of Chinese workers in the Philippines to emerging industries like the online gaming industry, likening it to the influx of Korean nationals during the boom of English language schools in the Philippines.  

“This is the trend now, the current industry,” Morente cited as the reason for the rise in the numbers of incoming Chinese nationals. “We’ve seen this before, when there was a sudden spike in Koreans in the Philippines during the boom of the English language institutions.”

Aside from cancelling the visa-upon-arrival privilege, Guevarra said they are also open to “tightening the requirements” or refining the system to prevent further abuse by Chinese nationals as recommended by the BI.  

At the moment, he said, the BI’s “informal proposal” is to refine the system. – With Ghio Ong, Catherine Talavera

CHINESE NATIONALS
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