Restrictions on international travel still in effect under GCQ, says BI
MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration (BI) will continue to implement international flight travel restrictions at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) even when Metro Manila transitions to general community quarantine (GCQ) starting June 1.
Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said Friday the travel restrictions that existed under the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and modified ECQ will remain unless eased or lifted by the government.
“As a consequence, our operations at the NAIA are still downscaled and our personnel there are still on skeletal and rotational deployment,” Morente said in a statement.
He added that most international flights remain suspended due to travel restrictions that had also affected both Filipinos and foreigners who wished to enter or leave the country.
“Nonetheless, we assure the public that we are always ready to resume full, normal operations in our international airports once the government decides to ease or lift these travel restrictions,” said Morente.
According to Grifton Medina, BI acting port operations chief, international flights will still be “limited and few since the start of the lockdown in mid-March.”
He further said that immigration officers at NAIA currently serve an average of only 20 to 30 flights a day – a third of which are special flights that ferry medical supplies and other kinds of cargo into the country.
As for passenger flights, Medina said these are mostly repatriation flights that transport returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and chartered sweeper flights that bring foreigners stranded in the country back to their homelands.
Under existing guidelines approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), only OFWs, Filipino citizens, their spouses and dependents, permanent residents, and foreign diplomats are allowed to enter the country.
All foreigners can leave anytime but Filipinos are not allowed to leave the country unless they are OFWs or permanent residents or holders of a student visa in their country of destination, according to BI.
On Thursday, President Rodrigo Duterte announced that Metro Manila, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Pangasinan, Albay, and Davao City will be placed under GCQ. The rest of the country will be under modified GCQ.
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