By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
The Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) has reminded stranded Filipinos in Taiwan that they cannot extend their visa-free stay in the country.
MECO said Filipino travelers who were affected by Taiwan’s inclusion in travel ban imposed by the Philippines should “get the earliest flight back to the Philippines.”
“Filipino travelers stranded in Taiwan are not allowed to extend their 14-day visa-free stay in Taiwan,” the unofficial Philippine representative to Taiwan said in its advisory posted on Facebook Thursday.
Affected Filipinos should contact MECO immediately should they encounter difficulties in booking flights.
Some airlines in the Philippines have already cancelled flights between Taipei and Manila after the government expanded to Taiwan its travel restrictions in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The travel ban was initially applied to China and its special administrative regions Hong Kong and Macau, covering all nationalities except Filipinos citizens travelling from these areas.
Taiwan, however, opposed its inclusion, hitting the Philippines for using the One China policy and the World Health Organization’s “wrong” classification of it as a part of China. It urged the government to “immediately correct” its order.
MECO chair Angelito Banayo earlier warned that Taiwan may cancel the visa-free entry privilege for Filipinos as a countermeasure to the Philippines’ flight ban.
In 2017, Taiwan gave Filipinos a 14-day visa-free privilege. It has been extended until July 2020 as “a display of Taiwan’s amity with the Philippines.”