DOTr says posts on Chinese nationals entering Manila during quarantine are ‘fake’

March 17, 2020 - 10:00 AM
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A Malaysia Airlines Airbus A330 commercial flight lands at Perth International Airport
A Malaysia Airlines Airbus A330 flight lands at Perth International Airport (Reuters file)

The Department of Transportation recently denied several posts alleging Chinese nationals are being allowed to enter the country.

The agency dismissed these posts as false and malicious, citing that the travel ban on China is still in place.

The Philippine government previously restricted travel to and from countries severely affected by the novel coronavirus, including in Wuhan, China, where the outbreak started.

The government also placed the entire Luzon under enhanced community quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

The new measure suspends all public transportation systems, including domestic, air and sea travels in Luzon, until April 14.

President Rodrigo Duterte also raised Code Red Sublevel 2 on the evening of March 12.

The transport agency took screenshots of Facebook posts bearing allegations of Chinese arrivals amid travel restrictions and labeled them as “fake news.”

FAKE NEWS ALERT!Ito po ay tungkol sa ipinapakalat ng ilan na tumatanggap pa rin ang ating mga paliparan ng mga flights…

Posted by Department of Transportation – Philippines on Sunday, March 15, 2020

 

The DOTr clarified that the international flights are not prohibited and that these are carrying overseas Filipino workers and not Chinese nationals.

“Liwanagin natin—sa simula pa lamang, ang ibina-ban po natin ay mga pasahero (foreign national coming from restricted areas) at hindi flights,” the post read.

“Ang mga pasaherong sakay ng mga flights galing China na pinapakalat ng ilang malisyoso ay mga Filipino passengers (OFWs, repatriates) na nag-desisyong umuwi na sa Pilipinas, subalit dadaan muna sa strict quarantine procedures bago payagang makapasok,” it added.

Meanwhile, outgoing flights carrying Chinese nationals are returning home to mainland China.

“Panawagan sa mga taong malisyoso at negatibo: Stop spreading panic and false information!” DOTr said.

Based on the photos, one of the posts came from a website called Bantay Nakaw Coalition, which mostly contains posts criticizing the Duterte administration.

Another post came from a certain Josef Leroi Garcia, who also appeared to share posts opposing the administration’s policies.

As of March 17, the Department of Health reported 45 new individuals who tested positive for COVID-19, which brings the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 187. It also reported 12 deaths.

Lifted travel ban for OFWs

Early this week, the government lifted the travel ban to mainland China to allow the OFWs there to return to the Philippines.

This excludes Hubei province, where the populous city of Wuhan is located.

The decision was based on the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease, the body tasked to monitor and handle the new epidemic in the country.

The Department of Foreign Affairs specified that this partial easing only applies only to overseas workers with official documents and Filipino government officials reporting to work to mainland China.

Tourists, students, first-time deployed OFWs are not covered by the travel ban lift.

“The public is informed that these guidelines are regularly reviewed by the IATF and any changes will be communicated in due course,” the DFA said.

Aside from China, the government also issued modified restrictions to travelers coming from Iran, Italy, Hong Kong, Macau and several areas in South Korea, such as Daegu City.

Workers employed in Hong Kong and Macau, meanwhile, had been allowed to fly there after the government partially lifted the travel ban there last February.