Taiwan takes offense at PH travel ban, plans to strike back

The Taiwanese government is mulling over retaliatory measures against the Philippines after the Health department confirmed that the travel ban imposed amid the coronavirus disease outbreak also covered Taiwan, an official said Wednesday.

Chairman Lito Banayo of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office, the Philippines’ representative office in Taiwan, made the statement in an interview with GMA News TV’s Balitanghali.

Banayo said Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen convened a special Cabinet meeting on Wednesday morning to discuss possible retaliatory measures against the Philippines such as the banning of Filipino workers from Taiwan.

Banayo said the Taiwanese government took great offense at the Philippines’ inclusion of Taiwan in its travel ban due to the One-China Policy.

“Ito po yung sa possible retaliatory measures. Imagine kung hindi nai-renew ang kanilang work contracts or ipagbawal ‘yung factories dito ay magbawas ng Pilipino… those are possible retaliatory measures,” he said.

On Monday, Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo said Taiwan was included in the travel ban

“When we asked the World Health Organization very, very clearly, they always refer to just one China, and Taiwan is included, even in their official reports,” he said.

But Banayo said Taiwanese foreign affairs officials were urging the Cabinet to reconsider its plan to implement retaliatory measures after they were given an assurance that the Philippine government would reevaluate the ban.

“Batay sa usapan namin ni Executive Secretary [Salvador] Medialdea at iba pang opisyal, magrere-assess sila ng situation diyan sa atin. Magme-meet ulit within two or three days,” Banayo said.

Banayo said the 160,000 Filipinos in Taiwan may be affected if the retaliatory measures were implemented.

He added that roughly 100 Filipinos headed for the Philippines were stranded in Taiwan due to the ban. 

In related developments:

• AirAsia also decided to suspend flights to Taiwan in compliance with the government’s expanded travel ban to the countries affected by the coronavirus.

“AirAsia is canceling its flights between the Philippines and China until further notice from the government,” the airline management said in a statement.

• Senator Francis Pangilinan on Wednesday called on the Health department to clarify the reason behind the inclusion of Taiwan in the travel ban.

H said thousands of Filipino travelers had been affected, including an estimated 154,000 Filipino workers who earn their living in Taiwan.

“Is the ban due to the novel coronavirus? Are there health risks posed for Filipinos going to and coming from Taiwan.” Pangilinan said. 

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Topics: Department of Health , Taiwan , travel ban , coronavirus disease outbreak
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