Taiwan president thanks Philippine friends after travel ban lifted

President Tsai Ing-wen expressed her gratitude to “friends from all walks of life” in the Philippines for their support, after a cabinet-level meeting resulted in a lifting of a travel ban by the Philippine government, today, February 14.

Philippine presidential spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo announced that the Philippines has lifted the travel ban imposed Feb. 10, effective immediately. The announcement came after what was described as “a heated debate,” according to Taiwan’s Central News Agency, quoting anonymous Philippine officials.

Thousands of travelers were affected after the Civil Aeronautics Board of the Philippines (CAB) announced a ban on arrivals from Taiwan, effective immediately, at 9:50 pm, February 10. The ban not only affected Taiwan nationals, but also international travelers transiting via Taipei Taoyuan International Airport – a major transport-hub in the region.

At the time of the ban, the Philippine Department of Health said that it abided by the World Health Organization (WHO) definition of Taiwan as being part of China, and therefore part of an “epidemic area.”

The February 14 decision to lift the ban was due to “the strict measures being undertaken by Taiwan to contain the spread of the new coronavirus or COVID-19,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo was quoted as saying by CNN Philippines.

The inter-agency meeting that resulted in the lifting of the ban saw labor and tourism agencies strongly supporting Taiwan, according to various reports including Taiwan’s Central News Agency.

“Both the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) in Taiwan and Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III argued in favor of lifting the ban due to its potential impact on the 150,000 Filipino migrant workers in Taiwan,” CNA reported.

The Philippines Department of Tourism, also supported the lifting of the ban from the nation’s fifth largest source of tourists, according to CNN Philippines.

“The lifting of the travel ban on Taiwan is highly assuring and we hope that the nCov crisis would soon be resolved, worldwide. Ultimately, the recovery of all affected countries is a universal prayer, especially that tourism is an inclusive and sustainable business for and of the people,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Puyat said in a statement Friday,” CNN reported.

The Philippines travel ban is seen in Taiwan as one of many fiascoes caused by China’s overbearing influence in WHO, and other United Nations organizations, including ICAO.

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