Senate bill to require foreigners to apply for visa before entering Philippines


Posted at Aug 10 2019 04:56 PM

MANILA—Foreigners traveling to the Philippines could be required to get a visa should a bill filed by Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri gain traction.

Senate Bill No. 107, or the Philippine Immigration Act, proposes the creation of a Commission on Immigration that would assess if a foreigner should be allowed to enter the country.

"The Commission will introduce a visa requirement from foreigners wishing to enter Philippine territory as non-immigrants," Zubiri said in the bill's exploratory note.

A quota or a cap on immigrant foreigners wishing to enter the country would also be set "for the protection and growth of the nation and its citizens," he said.

"In an increasingly globalized age, where borders are made porous by technological advancements and where economies live and die by the politics of international relations, it is imperative that the State strengthen its immigration policies for the protection and growth of the nation and its citizens," the senator said.

The measure also pushed for the creation of a board that would probe issues on deportation, revocation of immigration status, among other visa-related concerns.

"They have only 5 days to resolve cases brought to them," Zubiri said.

Stiffer immigration policies are needed to help the Philippines "establish itself as a competent, formidable force in the international scene," he said.

"For a developing nation that counts migrant workers as one of its most valuable exports, whose coastal territories are time and again questioned if not threatened by foreign powers, and for a nation that holds huge potential for foreign investments, immigration affairs can be but one of the most pressing national concerns," he said.

The bill was filed in July amid growing concerns on the influx of foreign workers in the country, particularly from China.

Last month, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin said the "visa upon arrival" scheme for Chinese tourists should be halted after National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon said the influx of Chinese visitors was a "security threat."

"We need to put an end to visas upon arrival; all visas should be issued by consular offices after vetting," Locsin said.

"We must take extra care in outsourcing any part of the visa application process, picking only the most reputable worldwide."