Philippines gives foreigners 72 hours to leave country; Guam residents may get stranded


Foreigners, including Guam residents and U.S. citizens, temporarily visiting the Philippines, only have 72 hours to leave that country under a new order announced by the Philippine government.

The new policy is part of the enhanced coronavirus quarantine declared by the Philippine government over the main Philippine island of Luzon where Metro Manila is located.

Under the enhanced quarantine, international airports in Luzon, including the Manila international airport and Clark international airport, only have a 72-hour window to accommodate all foreigners seeking to exit the country.

After this deadline, international airports in Luzon will stop all outbound international flights as part of the enhanced coronavirus quarantine adopted by the Philippine government.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has already ordered the suspension of domestic travel to and from the Metro Manila Manila area for a month in addition to other sweeping quarantines in order to combat the coronavirus.

This means that anyone flying in from abroad via the Manila international airport will have to remain in Metro Manila until the domestic travel ban is lifted.

The entire Luzon was placed under enhanced community quarantine at 12 a.m. Tuesday as a measure to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

According to the Philippine Department of Transportation, all gateways from Luzon will be closed after the 72-hour period from the start of the enhanced community quarantine.

This means foreigners, including Guam residents, currently visiting the Philippines may have to cut short their trip and only have until midnight Friday, March 20 to leave the Philippines or risk being stranded in that country.

“Outbound passengers intending to depart the Philippines from any of the international airports in Luzon shall be allowed to travel for a period of 72 hours from the effectivity of the enhanced community quarantine,” the Philippine Department of Transportation stated in its guidelines for the new policy.

GMA News quotes Philippine Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles as saying that those who will not be able to secure flights during the 72-hour window will be presumed to have chosen to stay in the Philippines.

“Based on discussion with IATF, those who really want to leave will really have to leave within 72 hours. They have to make up their minds. We assume that after 72 hours, it is your decision to stay here,” he said.

Technically, foreigners can get around the new policy by using international airports in other parts of the Philippines outside the main island of Luzon such as Laoag international airport in the north or Cebu international airport in the south.

However, most of the major airlines serving the Philippines only go through the Manila international airport.

Philippine Airlines and United Airlines have 17 flights between them from the Philippines to Guam every week and all of them go through the Manila international airport.

In a flight advisory issued Tuesday, March 17, Philippine Airlines said it will continue to operate international flights only up to 11:59 p.m. on March 19, 2020.

“We will announce in due course the status of our international flights from March 20 up to April 12, as we are presently coordinating with government authorities on the relevant implementing details. PAL will comply with the travel restrictions set out in the quarantine rules,” the airline stated.

The PAL Manila Airport Ticket Office at the NAIA Terminal 2 will remain open from 2:00 AM until 10:00 PM daily, 7 days a week. However, all other PAL Ticket Offices in Metro Manila will be closed to comply with the quarantine directives.

“We respectfully request you to consider deferring any requests for rebooking until after 12 April 2020, in view of the strict social distancing required by the quarantine measures; we expect a high volume of queries and transactions at the Ticket Office as well as the Hotline, and we ask you to bear with us as we deal with the challenge of handling an unprecedented number of canceled flights over this quarantine period,” PAL stated.

The airline added that this is a developing situation and the quarantine rules are subject to periodic review by the Philippine government’s Inter-Agency Task Force for COVID 19.