New York – Filipinos who have been naturalized citizens in other countries can now go back to the Philippines for Christmas, starting on December 7, 2020.
The Department of Tourism welcomed the decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to allow balikbayans entry to the Philippines in a press release on November 27, 2020.
The IATF-EID’s ratification of Resolution No. 85 included the provision on allowing balikbayans’ entry to the Philippines.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said that allowing entry of balikbayans or former Filipino citizens into the country during the holidays is a great cause for celebration for millions of families who long for the homecoming of their relatives abroad.
“This not only bodes well for our ailing industry but is good tidings for our kababayans who have been clamoring to be reunited with their loved ones from abroad, especially this yuletide season,” Secretary Puyat enthused.
The said resolution, signed on November 26, provides that, ”Starting December 7, 2020, the following may be allowed entry privileges under Republic Act No. 6768 or the “Act Instituting the Balikbayan Program”:
a) Filipino citizens’ foreign spouses and children, regardless of age, who are travelling with them;
b) Former Filipino citizens, including their spouses and children, regardless of age, who are travelling with them.
The entry of these persons shall be subject to the following conditions:
a) they are allowed visa-free entry under Executive Order No. 408, s. 1960;
b) with pre-booked quarantine facility;
c) with pre-booked COVID-19 testing at a laboratory operating at the airport; and
d) subject to the maximum capacity of inbound passengers at the port and date of entry.
The IATF also directed the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to formulate the necessary guidelines to ensure smooth implementation while the DOT has been tasked to issue the necessary guidelines for the provision of sufficient accommodation taking into account the release of test results.
“Balikbayans are considered as a viable source market of the country for tourism, particularly extending to the second and third generation dependents who have yet to discover their parents’ roots. The Filipino diaspora to date, has reached about 10 million. That is why we deem important the Filipino communities abroad as staunch partners in driving visitors to the Philippines,” the tourism chief further added.
Tour operators like OrienTours president Joebert Opulencia have repeatedly lobbied for the reopening of the Balikbayan Program for Filipinos who have been naturalized citizens in the US and other countries to go back to the Philippines for a vacation. # (With a DOT Press Release)