Filipinos abroad can return to PH despite Luzon lockdown

Sofia Tomacruz

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Filipinos abroad can return to PH despite Luzon lockdown

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles says this also applies to the Filipinos' foreign spouses and children, and other permanent residents of the Philippines

MANILA, Philippines – Filipinos abroad and their families, and permanent residents can return to the Philippines  even while Luzon is on lockdown, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said on Wednesday, March 18.  

Nograles, spokesperson of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the novel coronavirus outbreak, made the clarification during a Laging Handa briefing after restrictions were put in place to prohibit land, air, and sea travel from Luzon. 

“Filipinos abroad can return to the Philippines anytime, including their foreign spouse and children. Other permanent residents of the Philippines may also return,” Nograles said.  

A memorandum issued by Malacañang hours before the lockdown also said holders of diplomat visas issued by the Philippine government will be allowed to enter, subject to quarantine measures. 

What to expect. Filipinos returning from China, Hong Kong, and Macau will be made to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine in a government-designated facility, while those arriving from other countries will be required to undergo home quarantine.  

Nograles likewise reiterated overseas Filipino workers, balikbayans, and foreigners leaving the Philippines from Luzon will be allowed to continue with their trips during the lockdown. He added that they will need to provide proof that their departure is 24 hours from the time they leave their homes or hotels. 

People who are traveling to any international airport in Luzon to catch a flight will be allowed only one companion.

Why this matters. The Philippine government has put in place strict social distancing measures, which include limiting the movement of people in Luzon, to prevent the further spread of the new coronavirus. 

Health officials earlier reported a steep increase in infections with the number of confirmed cases in the Philippines spiking from 6 to 193 in less than two weeks. The confirmed cases included 14 deaths and 7 recoveries.  

The increase in cases prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to declare “enhanced community quarantine” measures be imposed on the entirety of Luzon starting midnight of Tuesday, March 17 until April 12. He also placed the country under a state of calamity. (READ: GUIDELINES: Luzon ‘enhanced community quarantine’) –

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Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers defense and foreign affairs. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz.