Thursday, May 30, 2024
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Strengthened Regulations for Chinese Tourist Visas

This week marks the implementation of stricter guidelines by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) regarding the issuance of tourist visas to Chinese nationals. This decision is a reaction to incidents of criminal activity linked to Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) organizations and cases of visa fraud.

The production of social security documentation by visa applicants is now one of the new conditions for tourist visas, as revealed on Thursday by Jesus Domingo, the Undersecretary of DFA for Civilian Security and Consular Affairs. Furthermore, candidates still need to submit bank statements, employment certificates, official IDs, and evidence of their financial stability.

Domingo emphasized the frequency of fraudulently obtained visas, saying, “There has been a significant number of visas acquired through fraudulent means.” He mentioned that consular officers from the Philippines in China regularly come across applicants who lack the necessary funds for travel, as well as documents that are obviously phony or fraudulently obtained. He also brought up incidents where Filipino consular employees were sought to be bought off.

Domingo made it clear that the goal is not to attract visitors engaged in POGO activities, but rather to draw in higher caliber travelers, even as he emphasized a revived tourism push. He said, “We are encouraging our diplomatic posts to promote tourism but with an emphasis on quality tourists.”

In response to questions concerning national security, Domingo stated that the tighter visa requirements are not directly tied to other national security concerns, but rather are intended to strengthen security procedures. He added, “Our reforms are primarily focused on improving security. This will reduce the influx of individuals with malicious intentions, protecting fellow Chinese visitors from potential crimes.”

Senator Risa Hontiveros, in the meantime, has demanded that POGOs be immediately outlawed, characterizing them as “hotspots of fugitives and havens for criminal activities.”

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