Weekly Issues: Philippine Government Anti-COVID-19 Initiatives
March 30, 2020
Public Diplomacy Section
Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C.
BAYANIHAN TO HEAL AS ONE ACT
On 24 March 2020, President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed into law Republic Act No. 11469, otherwise known as the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act”, which declares the existence of a national emergency arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, and authorizes the President for a limited period and subject to restrictions, to exercise powers necessary and proper to deal with the virus threat.
The new law grants the President additional powers to realign certain funds in the national budget, direct the operation of private hospitals, hotels, and transport firms to augment medical facilities and services, among others, to address the coronavirus threat. It also aims to provide a the two-month emergency subsidy program for around 18 million poor families affected by the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon.
The Bayanihan Act was passed by Congress during a special session on 23 March 2020 as the number of coronavirus cases in the country continues to rise. The law will be in effect upon publication and shall remain in force for three months unless extended by Congress.
“Bayanihan” is a Filipino word that refers to a spirit of communal unity and cooperation.
PH GOVERNMENT INITIATIVES THAT MAY IMPACT AMERICAN CITIZENS AND THEIR FAMILIES IN THE PHILIPPINES
On March 18, 2020, the Philippine Government lifted the 72-hour deadline for foreign nationals to depart the Philippines pursuant to the travel restrictions under the enhanced community quarantine which was initially announced on March 16. Accordingly, travelers in Luzon will be allowed to travel to the nearest international airport within 24 hours of their scheduled departure.
On March 19, 2020, the Department of Foreign Affairs announced the temporary suspension of visa issuance effective immediately. The temporary suspension deems all previously issued visas canceled, and foreigners with visas issued by Philippine Foreign Service Posts (primarily 9a Temporary Visitor/Tourist visas) have not been allowed entry into the country starting 22 March 2020. Visas previously issued to foreign spouses and children of Filipino nationals remain valid. This temporary suspension has no impact on foreign nationals that are already in the country or on holders of visas issued by other government agencies.
The Government of the Philippines has implemented enhanced screening and quarantine measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Travelers should be prepared for travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice.
CONSULAR SERVICES IN THE PHILIPPINE EMBASSY IN WASHINGTON D.C.
On 15 March 2020, the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. temporarily suspended all non-emergency consular services at its premises. Applications for civil registration may still be filed through postal mail. Clients seeking legalization/acknowledgement services may execute their documents before local notaries public, and subsequently secure the Certificates of Apostille from their jurisdiction’s designated authority.
Per the instructions of the Department of Foreign Affairs, all Philippine Embassies and Consulates General have temporarily suspended visa issuance and visa-free privileges as follows:
- Those under Visa Waiver Agreements (AJACS, AJACSSUK, FSC, MCL series);
- Those with Special Visas (SRRV, SIRV, ABTC, and economic zone visas etc.);
- Those who fall under Executive Order No. 408, s. 1960;
- Those holders of Hong Kong-SAR, Macau-SAR, Macau-Portuguese, and British National Overseas passports; and,
- Those Immigrant and Non-Immigrant Visa holders (i.e. 13, 9D, 9F, 9G, 47a(2), etc.)The temporary suspension of visa issuance will deem all previously issued visas cancelled, and foreign nationals with visas issued will not be allowed entry into the Philippines starting 22 March 2020. In case you need to go on an emergency travel, please call the Embassy’s hotline +1.202.368.2767.
Emergency Contacts of other Philippine Consulates General in the United States:
Philippine Consulate General, Honolulu
Email: Honolulu.firstname.lastname@example.org/ email@example.com
Philippine Consulate General, Los Angeles
(+1-213) 268-9990; (+1-213) 269-7852; (+1-213) 587-0758
Philippine Consulate General, Houston
Philippine Consulate General, San Francisco
Philippine Consulate General, New York
Philippine Consulate General, Chicago
PH-US COOPERATION VS. COVID-19 PANDEMIC
According to the U.S. Department of State, nearly $4 million in health assistance is earmarked to help the Philippines prepare laboratory systems, activate case-finding and event-based surveillance, support technical experts for response and preparedness, risk communication, infection prevention and control, and more.