IATF to decide next week on request to allow certain classifications of FNs to reenter PHL


JUSTICE Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Wednesday said the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) is likely to decide next week on the request to allow foreign nationals (FN) with permanent visas and working on state flagship infrastructure projects to reenter the country.

Guevarra, who is one of the members of the IATF, said the IATF technical working group (TWG) is now discussing the matter after a foreign embassy requested the Philippine government to allow the entry of their nationals who are holders of Bureau of Immigration (BI)-issued permanent visas.

The request covers foreign consultants and technical workers from the said country whose expertise may be needed in the construction of flagship projects under the Duterte administration.

But, the DOJ chief said the IATF’s decision will not only cover the requesting country but other FN who are similarly situated.

“As any action on this request may affect nationals of other countries, the IATF referred the matter to a technical working group to determine how many such foreign nationals are involved and to make a recommendation to the IATF. The matter of allowing foreign technical workers to return and resume work on flagship projects was brought up by the Department of Public Works and Highways [DPWH]. It is likewise being studied by the aforementioned TWG. The IATF may decide on the matter next week,” Guevarra said.

The task force is also studying the possibility of allowing foreigners who belong to another category such as those who have retired in the country and those who have set up businesses, to return to the country.

“We also have to see how many foreign nationals are really involved. If they comprise a manageable number, the IATF may consider to allow them to reenter,” he added.

The DOJ secretary said that many of these foreigners who want to enter have already been staying in the country, but were abroad when the lockdown was imposed.

They also have to consider the effect of allowing entry to these foreigners to the repatriation of more than 100,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who lost their jobs amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are studying these matters very carefully. We have to deal with the repatriation of thousands of OFWs and we do not want them to be crowded out by foreign nationals who will likewise have to be tested and quarantined upon arrival,” Guevarra said, stressing that the task force’s priority are the OFWs.

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