Press Release
January 30, 2020

Recto: Put up temporary Great Wall vs Chinese visitors

"I think it is time to put a temporary 'Do not enter sign' on our doorstep for visitors from China," Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said.

"Let us explain to them that we are not permanently closing our doors. This is not a permanent Great Wall. This is only during the duration of the coronavirus crisis," Recto said.

Recto said such Philippine action is consistent with what China is doing to stave off the spread of the virus.

"We will only be borrowing a page from their manual," Recto said.

"If Hong Kong has drastically reduced high-speed train and ferry services from China, then why can't we do the same? Recto said, referring to the territory's decision to slash cross-border travel with mainland China.

Even within China, its government has quarantined 40 million of its people, confining them in their homes and restricting their travel, Recto noted.

"If many of their people are not allowed to travel from Point A to B in China, then why are we allowing travel from most points in China to all points in the Philippines?" Recto asked.

"Sabi nila, a temporary ban on Chinese visitors will harm them. On the contrary, it will harm us more, in tourism receipts forfeited. And greater harm if the virus will be carried in here by them," he said.

"There is no hint of racism or xenophobia in this policy. This is an assertion of the national wellbeing. And an acceptance of the fact that our defenses and capacity to respond to a health emergency is not that strong," Recto said.

"When China sneezes, we get pneumonia. If that is the case, then an ounce of border control is worth a ton of cure," Recto said.

He said it was wrong for the Bureau of Quarantine to "clear that cruise ship from China in express fashion. Abundant caution should have been exercised."

Recto said airport screening of incoming passengers "regardless of their origin" should be strict because the virus can come here via other routes and means.

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