Duterte refuses to lift coronavirus travel ban on Taiwan despite plea

President Rodrigo Duterte is standing by his decision to implement a coronavirus travel ban on Taiwan even after the self-governed island insisted that it was not part of China, where the virus originated.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo yesterday said in a Malacañang Palace presser that Duterte was only concerned about the welfare of Filipinos and that the decision has nothing to do with the Philippines’ adherence to the One China Policy, which does not recognize Taiwan’s independence.

“The president said last night that his primary concern is the safety of our countrymen. Until the danger persists, then we have to do what is necessary to secure their safety,” Panelo said.

“I asked him [about the One China Policy]. It has nothing to do with it,” he added.

Read: Taiwan included in Health Department’s expanded coronavirus travel ban

Panelo insisted that the ban was only temporary and that it will continue “until danger exists.”

Taiwan expressed its displeasure over the ban on Wednesday, saying Manila had been “misled” by the World Health Organization (WHO), which considers Taiwan part of China. The Health Department said they extended the travel ban to Taiwan based on the WHO’s recommendation, but the WHO has said they do not endorse travel bans on any nation.

As of today, Taiwan has 18 confirmed coronavirus cases, far lower than Singapore, which has 58. When a reporter pointed this out to Panelo and asked why there was no ban imposed on Singapore, the spokesman was a little evasive in his response.

“I don’t think it depends on [who has] more or less. The fact is [people in Taiwan are] infected, that’s why there is a ban,” Panelo said. “Whether eventually we will include Singapore, let’s wait for that. The basis [of the ban is] we’re trying to secure the safety of our countrymen.”

“Singapore is different, our case is different. They have a different way of thinking there… We’re not even sure if there will be a travel ban [imposed on Singapore]. All of this is being studied by the president.”

This article, Duterte refuses to lift coronavirus travel ban on Taiwan despite plea, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!