Press Release
March 19, 2021

Villanueva: Harm done, but eased restrictions on returning Filipinos still welcome

Senator Joel Villanueva welcomed the easing of restrictions on returning Filipinos from foreign countries after authorities rescinded a guideline it issued earlier this week which triggered a wave of disruptions on travel plans of Filipinos eager to come home.

Villanueva lamented the ordeal of Filipino passengers overseas, particularly those who received notices from their airlines that they would not be able to accommodate their flight given a cap imposed on arrivals in Manila.

The restriction on returning overseas Filipinos "who are not OFWs" issued on Tuesday, has since been rescinded by the Inter Agency Task Force in a new memo released on Friday morning.

"We're glad that the IATF listened to the points we raised at Thursday's labor hearing. This is a victory for Pinoys because all our kababayans regardless of their reason for going abroad can now return home, no questions asked," Villanueva said in a statement.

"Tulad po ng sinabi natin, nagdudulot ng kalituhan ang naunang polisiya. Kung hindi po umalma at nag-ingay ang ating mga kababayan, hindi lumabas ang amendatory order," continued the lawmaker, chair of the Senate labor committee.

Villanueva appealed to policymakers to be mindful of the repercussions of guidelines it issues, particularly the cap on returning Filipinos.

"At this time of the pandemic, our people are cautious about their spending their hard-earned money. Travel disruptions such as this affect their household budget too because they need to make changes on their plans, not to mention the cost of rebooking flights," Villanueva said.

In an interview over CNN Philippines, Villanueva described the incident as an example of the government's "flip-flopping" policies on the pandemic response that sowed confusion among people.

"While we are glad that our authorities already fixed the issue, the fact remains that the flipflopping of our policies would continue to hurt us, especially our people and our economy," Villanueva said. "We cannot let this go on and on."

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