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While this story has already been out for a few days, I’ve been sitting on it, waiting for more details. The following post, “US Citizens May Be Required to Obtain Visa before Entering Philippines,” relies on information from various online sources. First of all, how did this diplomatic snafu get started? I’ll attempt to break it down.

US President Donald Trump recently signed a new National Budget Bill. US Democratic Senators Dick Durbin (Illinois) and Patrick Leahy (Vermont) included a provision in the bill which protests what they claim is the “wrongful imprisonment” of Philippine Senator Leila de Lima. De Lima has been in detention since 2017.

The amendment specifies that any Filipino official involved in de Lima’s imprisonment would be banned from entering the United States.

US Citizens May Be Required to Obtain Visa before Entering Philippines

Therefore, Philippine President Duterte ordered the two US Senators to be immediately banned from the Philippines. Furthermore, Duterte threatens to require all US citizens to secure a visa if they want to enter the Philippines. In contrast, US citizens can currently enter the Philippines for up to 30 days without a visa.

Photo courtesy of pixabay

This visa requirement would also apply to dual citizens or Filipinos who are now US citizens, regardless of the purpose of the visit.

“All Americans, if you are US citizen then you are an American,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said.

Furthermore, if the visa requirement goes into effect, any US citizen wanting to enter the Philippines must first apply for and secure a visa. The Philippine Bureau of Immigration website states that a foreign national may apply for a Temporary Visitor’s Visa at a Philippine Foreign Service Post at his/her country of origin or place of legal residence.

Hence, the fate of Philippine officials involved in the detention of Senator Leila de Lima now rests in the hands of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who will decide if they should be barred from the United States. CNN Philippines reports that Pompeo may possibly decide not to impose the ban. No official list of any Filipino officials that may be banned has been released at this time.

“We will not sit idly if they [the United States] continue to interfere with our processes as a sovereign state,” says Panelo.

Possible Consequences Loom

Any visa requirement for US residents wanting to visit the Philippines will have a tremendous impact on tourism in the Philippines.

The United States consistently ranks third in the number of visitors from foreign countries, topped only by South Korea and China. The loss of over a million visitors a years from the US will also affect the Philippine economy.

Above all, the United States remained the top country for remittances to the Philippines in 2018. That’s according to data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP.) Remittances that came from the US amounted to $9.986 billion in end-2018. That makes up more than a third or about 34.5 percent of the total remittance inflows to the country during the year.

Also, the United States could possibly enforce stricter regulations on money sent to the Philippines.

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