A SENATOR on Friday criticized President Rodrigo R. Duterte for failing to consult other sectors before ending a military deal with the US on the deployment of troops for war games.
“We elected a president who does not appear to give much importance to counsels and consultations with sectors that could very well help him arrive at well-informed decisions,” Senator Panfilo M. Lacson said in a statement.
The senator also alluded to Mr. Duterte’s decision to include Taiwan in the travel ban amid a novel coronavirus outbreak that has killed more than 1,000 and sickened tens of thousands more in China.
The presidential palace earlier claimed the ban had nothing to do with the Philippines’ One-China policy.
“Politically, it seems that the China lobby has become a very powerful force under this administration,” Mr. Lacson said.
“Only time will tell if this major shift in the country’s foreign policy will benefit our people in the medium and long terms,” he said.
He added that the travel ban might already have potentially dire consequences for Filipino workers in Taiwan.
Meanwhile, Senator Richard J. Gordon also urged Malacañang to lift the travel ban on Taiwan, arguing that its 18 confirmed cases of the deadly virus was not as threatening as other countries.
“While there may be may 18 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Taiwan, it is not really among the countries badly hit by the disease, which is why no other countries in Asia, aside from the Philippines, issued a travel ban against it,” Mr. Gordon said in a statement.
“We should reconsider for humanitarian considerations. It would be unfair if the ban was imposed because we fear China,” he added.
Taiwan is home to more than 150,000 Filipino migrant workers. There were 241,000 tourist arrivals from Taiwan in 2018, according to local tourism data.
An inter-agency task force was scheduled to meet on Friday afternoon to discuss the travel ban on Taiwan, Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque said at a briefing.
The task force also wanted to adopt clearer parameters before imposing a travel ban, he said.
The Health and Science and Technology departments would also ask the World Health Organization (WHO) to validate coronavirus test kits developed by local scientists, Mr. Duque said. — Charmaine A. Tadalan