Locsin orders DFA to facilitate entry of foreign fiancés

Pia Lee Brago - The Philippine Star
Locsin orders DFA to facilitate entry of foreign fiancés
STRA / File

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines’ top diplomat instructed the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) legal office to “find all ways” for fiancés of Filipinos to travel and enter the Philippines as travel restrictions continue to delay their weddings.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said he gave the instruction to the DFA Office of Legal Affairs (OLA) and Office of Consular Affairs (OCA) after unmarried couples turned to him for help to allow their foreign fiancés to travel and enter the Philippines for their wedding.

“@DFAPHL OCA, OLA, is there a way? This is a specific case. Let’s get it done because marriage is the most practical,” Locsin tweeted.

He assured unmarried couples that he has been making the rounds and will never give up until he gets approval for various betrothed to enter the country.

“I am going around appealing. Will never give up,” Locsin said. “I just repeated my order to our legal office. Find all ways to get around the ban, especially all ways these couples can get married to enter our country.”

“Don’t break my heart. Harder for me to work to get you all united,” he added.

The secretary’s assistance was sought after some similarly situated Filipinos were unable to get married as their foreigner fiancés cannot enter the country.

“I want that series of tweets on my desk by the end of the day or no one will ever travel again. I will propose budget cuts to the next Congress. These good people and their foreign partners are the kind I want in our country; so let’s get them in,” Locsin said.

The Philippines imposed entry travel restrictions on those traveling from countries with localized COVID-19 transmissions. Exempted from this rule are Filipino citizens (including foreign spouses and children), holders of permanent resident visa and holders of diplomatic visas issued by the Philippine government.

Meanwhile, Taiwan has extended its visa-free privilege for Filipinos and other foreign nationals until July next year, according to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in the Philippines.

“From Aug. 1, 2020, trial visa-free entry for nationals from Thailand, the Philippines, Brunei and Russia will be extended for one year until July 31, 2021,” it said in a statement issued on Thursday night.

The extension of the visa-free scheme for travelers from select countries aims to further promote Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy, which was launched by President Tsai Ing-wen in 2018.

Citing data from Taiwan’s National Immigration Agency, TECO said the number of visitors from the Philippines increased by 100.37 percent in 2019.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), however, reminded visitors that restrictions are still in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The aforementioned adjustments to visa measures for nationals from New Southbound Policy partner countries and Russia are based on previously existing policies and do not take precedence over temporary border control measures put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” it said.

Foreign nationals who wish to visit Taiwan for purposes other than tourism and study must apply for a special entry permit.

All foreign nationals entering Taiwan must present an English-language certificate of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days prior to their arrival. Visitors are also required to undergo home quarantine for 14 days. – Helen Flores


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